Wednesday, 30 June 2010

T = Telly on the blink

Since yesterday. Didn't call our provider today did I?
I've missed Desperate Housewives tonight.
So I've been writing Desperate Posts.
Lucky you!!!!

P = Paranoia

With a plan as big and as vast as my Pomegranite Plan, paranoia is bound to come into it but I didn't think it would do so quite so soon.

Lazing in dream world in the flat on such a warm day as today, I told myself to go out onto the Heath. My dreams are lovely there. Full of hope.

The prize that will pop out of the Pomegranite, should I be successful, is not for me. That's alright, it's a challenge. The money for my Big Issue Walk wasn't for me either.

The Press wasn't involved in my Big Issue Walk.

If it was me and the local press going after the cash it might be ok, but it's not, it's just me. The local press will report it. That's ok, I like them, I'd like to help them. Wouldn't good news be nice to report and good news of that magnitude: £283m in times of "austerity" for Camden's long bullied and battered heart?

It's just me.
Just me.
No union behind me, no association of any kind. Not even a friend saying "yeah, go for it!" Just me. Crazy, nutty, desperate, me.
I'd quite like to meet Cameron and Clegg and ask for it. I've met one of them, I've written to both of them, what's the big deal?
At that level? When that's how high I'm prepared to take it?


My Advice Man nearly made me cry when I met him on Sunday. He said:
"You're so desperate. I've never met anyone as desperate as you. I wish I knew how I could help you."
That word, desperate, stung (yes thank you stiggers, I know there's a P in that)
"You can't help me," I'd replied. "No-one can."
Later I said to him: "I know I'm desperate so I should use that. I should use it to get the £368 million." Fighting talk rrrrah!
"If you get that you can have the front page," he said and I laughed because if anyone should know I don't want, I don't like, exposure, it's him.

Do I mind the borough knowing I'm desperate? Not really. In my mind we all are, 18000 is alot you know and there have been two deaths in recent weeks, Jennyfer Spencer and Tony.

Do I mind the nation knowing I'm desperate? Fuck yes. These politicians are going to hang me out to dry (Oh yes, my paranoia really did take root in the soil of Hampstead Heath this afternoon and went far, far, far down the plan.)

The housing division of the council are going to be pissed off I'm going to the papers (school social worker said as much, saying it could make things worse for me and my son for blowing the whistle on it when I saw her this afternoon)

It was all beginning to look pretty pants actually, my pomegranite plan.

Then I got a reprieve, that helped me breathe. Local journo emailed me and said he couldn't meet on Friday after all and was really sorry (Don't be!!)

I'm going to my MP's surgery on Saturday, which was my plan before I had a plan.

I'm going to ask him to get the money.

I was going to tell him to use the living me and the dead Jennyfer but I'll have to see how I feel.

I mean would you sacrifice yourself for money you wouldn't see a penny of?

Thought not.

My son, my sun, my boy, my buoy, I haven't forgotten you baby, you're the reason I can't give up. I'll give up when we move so I've got to do this, at least give it a shot, before we do.

P = Positive thinking

My head was in the Pomegranite Plan all day. I planned to tidy up abit, I didn't, I got swept away by Take That instead of charging ahead with Diana Ross.

It was good. By making contact with the press I'd put my Pomegranite Plan into action.

I never told you about Jennyfer Spencer did I oh reader. A disabled woman who lived on the fifth floor of a block near me was found dead in her flat after battling for three years for a ground floor adapted flat. It was a huge story in the local paper because she left a note asking that they investigate her death.

Suicide has been ruled out, the council has been cleared of any wrong doing. I wrote to the paper saying I empathised with her, even though I am physically healthy. I said I'd written to politicians on behalf of my son, borough and country and didn't want her death to be in vain, whatever its causes. They didn't publish it. That's alright, I'm always very Doris about sending letters to the press.

Anyway, I don't want her death to be in vain so I went to the papers yesterday and offered up my story. I said that with their help, me and Jennyfer, who was known as Alex round here, might be able to get hold of the £283 million pounds denied to the council because tenants wouldn't accept council housing to be privatised.

Worth a shot no? The paper's been campaigning for it for years and Alex's death is directly related to housing.

Council policy needs to change. It's not transparent at all, as you followers well know because I bore you relentlessly with all my confusion. The situation here is getting worse. In five years the waiting list has gone up from 15,000 to 18,000. We need more affordable homes. We need that money.

A new Government unlikely to give it
A new Council that would love to have it
Me willing to go after it
A new dawn for the borough?

Take That's The Garden is very soothing

This is the life we've been given
So open your mind and start living
We can play our part if we only start

P = Publishing my response to emails

Friday 25th June. I was going to post these letters on Sunday but me and stiggers were in no mood after what happened to Tony.

Dear [Allocations],

Thank you for your email. It was kind of [the Estate Manager] to speak to me but he didn't do so as he was conducting the viewing. I waited until everyone had gone and he was locking the door, so the other families would not hear what I had to say and I wouldn't embarrass him. I had spoken to some of these families earlier. They asked me no questions other than: "What is it like to live here?" To which I answered: "There's a nice view" and "I don't know whether my child will be safe living on the 6th floor. Do you think it will be alright?" to which I answered: "Is there a flat going on the sixth floor aswell?" to which the mother said: "This is the sixth floor." I tried to laugh at my own stupidity but it's just not funny any more. [The Estate Manager] arrived and I stayed quiet until they'd gone.

How is it fair though? 100 points for statutory homelessness is only insufficient if those homeless at home families or transfer families are getting more.What I find wholly insufficient is that we cannot get extra points for insecurity or impending homelessness because technically we are already homeless. I also find it wholly insufficient that my child is not prioritised because he is seven years old. Too old for a permanent, secure place to live?

[The Support Manager] also told me I'll be getting a new homeless household support worker. There's no continuity of care anymore. This new person will not know my case. [The Support Manager] did not even know I was being evicted. Another person to come round and see me cry and not be able to do anything about it? Case workers helped one of the families I spoke to. My "caseworkers" haven't been able to help my family at all.

My son's life. My son's school. My son's future. Please minimise what this situation is doing to him because it is him this system is leaving behind. It is on his behalf that I write and write and write to you. Thanks again for getting back to me.

Kind regards

Sue de Nim

P = Pasting

Friday 25th June. Had I not been floating from the Pearl Jam gig, I'd've paraphrased this, but this morning, shucks, you get it all. I don't even know if I'm right or wrong pasting it like this, but hell's bells, the bold bits make me so angry.....I'm grateful to allocations though. She doesn't ignore me (although I've not had a reply to my response yet....Should have put in more questions...)

Dear Ms De Nim,

Thank you for your email and it was kind of [the Estate Manager] to speak to you whilst he was conducting a viewing of the property next door.

As you know I cannot comment on the households shortlisted for the property [in Papier Mache Towers] but they will have valid reasons for having the points that they do and were shortlisted correctly for the property.

The council has many remits, one of which is a statutory duty to those who meet the criteria of homelessness under the current legislation for homelessness. The homeless duty is to provide temporary accommodation and not permanent rehousing, but we do place those households we accept a duty to on the housing register. In recognition that you are a homeless applicant we have awarded you 100 statutory homelessness points; I know that you think this insufficient and have requested a review of your points several times and these have been carried out but there have been no change. I have spoken to [the Support Manager], who advised that he visited you last Thursday and advised you that the Homeless Household Support Services were being restructured and that you will be allocated a new Homeless Household Support Worker shortly. I have spoken to [the Support Manager] today and he has confirmed that this will happen next week.

As I have said before that we will endeavour to keep you in Camden, however, at this moment I can neither confirm whether it will be in the same location or what form of temporary accommodation this will be. I am aware that you are, have been and continue to be anxious about your housing and what will happen and we are working to minimise this situation may be causing you.



Tuesday, 29 June 2010

P= Press

If I can work up a demonic rage it is the right way forward.

I must stay mad, I mustn't go mad.

P is for Potty after all.

The social worker's visit

I hadn't tidied the flat so I apologised for it when she walked in.

"How are you?" she asked.
"Tired," I replied. " I cycled to Bethal Green and back and soon I've got to cycle him to swimming." Didn't want to mention the recent suicide with my son in ear shot.

It's only today I got really, really angry about her visit.

She asked my son how he was. "Fine," he replied.
"Did you have a nice day at school?"
"Do you have lots of friends there?"
"Do you have a best friend?"
"What's your teacher like?"
"Before I had her I thought she was bossy but after she became my teacher she's not, she's really funny and really nice."
"That's good. What's your favourite subject?"
"Playtime. At playtime you get to do what you want but I like art too and science."
"So you like your school then?"

"Do you mind," she says turning to me, "if he goes into another room so we can have a chat?"
"Why?" interjects my son.
"I need to have a little chat with your mummy and sometimes it's better if me and your mummy have a little chat while you're not there."
He tells me he's hungry, I make him toast, then I tell him to go and play in our room. "The sooner you do that, the sooner we can go out," I say instead of what I really meant which was of course: the sooner you do that, the sooner we get rid of her. Tired, so tired. He goes into the bedroom.

She asks about the housing and when it becomes clear to her that the property owner wants her property back she says:

"Oh well you'll have to move. You'll have to start preparing your son, telling him he'll be leaving school, have to say goodbye to his friends, this community."

I flew off the handle in the demonic way I really like: calmly.

"I want him to stay at that school. I have campaigned on behalf of my child for months and months and months saying so."

"Yes, but if you don't know where you're going, you have to be prepared for any eventuality."

"I don't want to move him from that school. It's his third parent."

"I realise that moving house is very stressful," she says.

"No, you don't," I reply. "Have you ever been evicted?"


"See, you have no idea. It's stressful moving house when it's your choice. When it isn't..."

I wasn't aware the boundaries of my demonic rage were so vast, usually being the sort that loses my temper very quickly but when she said: "You have alot of things" I snapped.

"No I don't have a lot of things, I just have a small flat so it looks like it. My alot of things are stuck in storage somewhere from when I was last evicted."

We talk about my desire for permanent housing, she says I'm unlikely to get that. I tell her I want the cap taken off children's priority, that under 5's get priority. She doesn't believe me so when I say I can prove to her, she says "they don't get any extra points though."
I tell her the points system is really confusing and offer to show her the homesconnection site we bid on each week. She says she's never seen that before so I switch on computer and calm down again. It feels quite nice teaching her something. When she sees under 5's get priority for ground floor flats if they're living over the second floor, she says they have buggies. "Children grow out of buggies," I snap. Too long, too long I've been playing this game....
She says she's call the support manager. Oh support worker my support worker, YOU would be better.

My son came out then asking her if she wanted to come into the room and see the puzzle he'd done. Noooooooooooooooooo son, noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

She told me she'd phone the school if that was alright. I can hardly say no. Then she said she'd call me and I said I was going to my voluntary job today, so she said tomorrow.

I don't know where my head was. I didn't tell her I'd interviewed her boss last year. I was thinking of Lucky and her battles.

This morning though, deputy head wasn't in the playground so I asked the head if she was in today because she'd get a call. I was so angry about the interchange with the social worker, so angry she'd got my son to talk about how much he liked school then telling me I had to prepare him for leaving it, that I told the head that I had this parallel idea of going to the press "to wrench all this rubbish open."

Oh yes, the Pomegranite Plan. Social workers I thought were not part of that plan of p's but what's a social worker if not a Public sector worker?

Meant to be?

Find out in the morning when she calls me.

His name was Tony

His name was Tony, 48 years old, he came from another estate nearby, dropped his dog off at his mums not saying where he was going, came straight to ours, walked or took the lift up to the 8th floor, took his jacket off, climbed onto the bottle green rail...

That's what Mr Grey, chairman of our tenant's association said.

Earlier yesterday morning, two young boys said their mum said it was the man who rode the bike.

"Rides the bike and is always wearing headphones?" I asked. He's got a head full of grey and white hair. I always smile at him and he smiles back but rarely a word; a quiet man but loads of us are quiet here, it doesn't mean anything.

"Yes," said the boys.

The sadness I felt was so profound thinking it was him even though I don't really know him. Now I know it's probably not him, I hope I bump into him again soon so I know for sure.

Oh why did you do it Tony? Dad at school said his sister heard a thud but had no idea it was you and later heard wracking sobs from outside her flat on the first floor and looked out to see three of your mates, quite big and burly the dad told me, not the sort to cry just standing there sob sob sobbing for you.

Some of us have left you flowers. Someone's put out candles in the form of a crucifix.

I told the dad and some others that if you were someone from somewhere else you might have come to us because it's a good place to jump from. They looked at me, said how could I say that. Your estate's low rise isn't it? You must've really wanted to go.

I know how it feels to be so sick and tired of something. I also know how it feels to think death is the only answer. I hope you're in a good space Tony. My thoughts go out to you and also the people who are really missing you right now.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Suicide at the Towers

How I loathe to write this post but I feel I have to.

I was awoken this morning at 8.15. "Who is it?" I said as I walked towards the door.
"The police."
What now? I thought.
"There's been a serious incident," said the copper. "We need to know if you saw or heard anything in the early hours of this morning."
"No I didn't. Has there been a death?"

A man with grey hair, said to be in his 50's jumped from the 8th floor of Papier Mache Towers. I say jumped, you can't push someone off that balcony and had he been thrown, someone on that floor would have heard something.

I walked around in circles for a bit, unable to find Nico Teen sitting on the table infront of me. Found it, shaky hands rolling. Made a cup of tea.

I went outside. My neighbours were there. We looked over the balcony. A swarm of police officers, two cop cars, one police van, an ambulance and a white tent with the letters OK on it. OK? A dead man beneath it? My eyes focussed QK. QK written on three panels.

Apparantly there was a jacket with a pack of cigarettes and a lighter in the pockets, which is how they knew the 8th floor was his platform.

"My nerves are shot to pieces," said my neighbour, she who had the dead man living above her for two weeks before he was found.

None of us know if he was a resident. We all keep ourselves to ourselves so even for the old timers it can take some time to identify anyone new. Perhaps he came from outside and figured it was an ideal place to leap away from his problems.

On a beautiful morning such as today, he would have seen the city to his right and Hampstead Heath to his left. Blue sky and green, green, green. He leapt between 6.45 and 7am onto cold, hard, concrete. A son came home and saw nothing, his dad went out to walk the dogs.

As soon as we were allowed to leave the block, I grabbed my swim stuff and headed straight to the pond meadows.

I didn't want to come home but when I did, flowers had been laid. My neighbour was sitting outside her flat. "I haven't moved all day." The police finally left at 3.30 she said. She saw the body. Even under covers, rigamortis had set in and she could see the outline of the man's bent arm and leg, the position he landed in.

It's shaken up the entire block. I don't know what energy is around here at the moment. So many deaths recently. I didn't tell you our resident alchy got run over a week ago. A couple of years ago a mum's kids got taken into care after she hung one of them over the balcony. Would she have let him go if the caretaker back then hadn't seen the incident and gone up to talk to her?

I'm labelling it under Crime because taking your life is the most tragic crime of all. Putting it under housing too. I'm glad my son wasn't here. How do you justify any of this to a child?

Rest in Peace Mr Man Who Could Take No More. I'm sorry you had no-one to talk to, no-one to stop you.

I so wish Pearl Jam didn't follow this post but I have to honour Mr Man's life and do so by mentioning him.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Pearl Jam

I went to the gig alone. A mix up with the tickets, my Mr Advice man gave me the option and I took it. Thank you Mr Advice Man!! I bopped, I waved my arms, I whistled besides thousands of other people and had a complete blast! I let the music transcend my own thoughts, sang "I wanna go home, I wanna go home, I wanna go home!" with the crowd and hoped the moon and stars could hear me.

I met another woman on her own. She said her name was Sue and I said: "Ooooh!" I told her I was going to try and get to the front and she said she'd stay where she was because it was already so busy.

I found a spot where I could see Eddie, Easy on the Eye, Eddie, Rock God of my evening, between the shoulders of two giant hulks where I also had a clear view of the screen should I want a close up of his fine, fine features! I didn't want the evening to end, it was one of those. You want it to go on and on and on. I sang though, when I knew the lyrics I sang. The evening was a gift, a timely, amazing, gift.

Altogether now!

Oh I, oh, I'm still alive
Hey, I, I, oh, I'm still alive
Hey I, oh, I'm still alive

(Pearl Jam featuring stiggers)

Friday, 25 June 2010

Horoscope Wisdom

"Yet better to be untidy in perpetuity than to be unhappy."
(25/6/2010 -

"Don't mistake a passing position for a permanent picture. How things were, how things are, and how things will be, are three very different things."

Tell that to the council Cainer....

"Get the Social Worker on your side"

I chat to a couple of mums in the playground. I tell them I'm going to a gig in Hyde Park tonight, it's all very great. I told them that I had an idea and that's how it came about. One of them laughed and said: "You've always got ideas, what one is it now?!"

I tell them my idea might not be so great after all for I have a social worker coming to my flat on Monday.

I can't tell you the tight feeling in my chest over this. I'll tidy up but she'll come round and see clutter. She'll go into our bedroom and see the curtain rail's broken. She'll see his cotbed and I'll tell her I don't allow him to sleep in my bed but he does anyway. She'll feel the jutting out springs of my mattress. When she leaves the door lock will fall out of its frame, the way it did when the Support Manager came and promptly dialed the social services.

What is she doing to her child? Why is she letting him live like this? She's not putting him first. She can't look after him properly.

Last year a Support Manager came to my flat, told me it was a health and safety issue, told me I was a danger to my child and went and told her managers I shouldn't be given a council flat because I don't know how to look after one.

"Social workers are supposed to be there to help you," said the other mum who has heard many stories herself. "Try and get them on your side."

Meanwhile the other mum who'd laughed, got angry: "What right have they got to come into your home and say that it's messy? It's none of their fuckin' business. That's not on, that's not on."

I shook my head. "I know, but it's what they do."

"Try not to worry, use the them to help you, they might be able to you know, just get them on your side," said the mamma with the three boys. "And enjoy the gig tonight! That will be fun!"

On a light note we parted. I need advice. It's timely I will get some this evening. Social workers were never part of my plan. Does this mean I put my plan on the back burner?

I'll keep you posted, heh heh....

The Pomegranite Plan

The Pomegranite - the last fruit in the fruit bowl.
The Pomegranite Plan - all the P's
Prime Minister

Earlier this week I emailed a gentleman asking if I could meet him for some advice. The plan wasn't formulated in my mind but I was feeling overwhelmed with erm, feeling.

He got back to me yesterday. I couldn't make the time he suggested because of problems with access arrangements. Could I meet him later and throw him a beer (a pint?!)

He replied asking if I liked Pearl Jam. He had a free ticket for tonight's gig in Hyde Park.

Pearl Jam!

Am I making this up?!

I'll proceed to the gig. Do I proceed with The Pomegranite?

Thursday, 24 June 2010

The Pomegranite

Skin and flesh and seeds

The final fruit in the fruit bowl?

It's worth a whopping £283 million, not just to me.

If I can figure out the best way to peel it that is

Call from social worker

She sounded quite gentle on the phone. Asked when she could come round and see me with my son here. Not today I said, so she's suggested Monday, just before me or his dad take him swimming.

Given I feel so defeated by housing, perhaps my voice will be calm. I can't turn tears on and off but this is about the needs of my child. His need for a secure home. Gosh I might even tell her she's too late and I'm going to the papers. My new Pomegranite idea is big in my head you know, and getting bigger and bigger.

I peruse the mess. I've no motivation right now. Oh happy weekend...

My son's been referred to social workers

Dear Sue de Nim,

Re: Son de Nim

I am writing to inform you that Camden Family Services and Social Work have received a referral from your housing worker in relation to your child.

This matter has been discussed and it was felt that a referral to our services was necessary. On the basis of this information, a decision has been made to allocate this case for assessment by a Social Worker in accordance with our statutory duties under the Childrens Act 1989 and 2004 within a seven day period.

Your allocated Social Worker...will be contacting you within the next seven days to arrange a home visit. If you have any queries regarding the above information please contact [person] to discuss.

Yours sincerely

Duty Officer

As I bought my son home early from school to watch the footie yesterday, this was waiting for me.

I referred myself to social workers not long ago and got a response that they couldn't help me. Suddenly a member of the Council sees me cry in my cluttered flat and someone's going to come round and assess my son. Assess me.

If I cry, if I'm angry, is this how I am day to day with my child? Is he at risk, from me?

Lucky, Billie, Babyface, all their stories swim inside me and fuel my fear. Children on supervision orders, children taken away.

The Foca (he still hasn't texted me back as to when he'll pick up our son, who's been crying daily wanting to see him)

The director's name at the bottom of the letter: I interviewed her last year as part of the participatory appraisal research.

I don't know what to think or make of all this. Lucky and Billie are still in their one-beds awaiting transfer. Babyface is still in a hostel.

An idea came to me yesterday morning, to go to the press. Should I do this now or do I let all this social worker stuff play out?

The eviction is coming, I've been told and told again we won't get a council flat, we'll just go into further temporary accommodation.

I've had enough. Is the press the final fruit? I thought this yesterday morning. The hairdresser said I'd eaten all the fruit in the fruitbowl of my life.

I haven't. There's one more.

The Pomegranite.

The press won't help us. I know that. I'll lose my anonymity for no personal gain.

There's a chance, with social workers help, that my son's school will remain secure for him.

There's still no chance we'll get a council flat and the wheel will continue to turn, spitting us out every few years.

I wish I had a thousand followers today so you could tell me what to do.

I don't though, so I'll take my son to the Lido later and submerge my head under the water. It's not quite an octopus' garden but I might find some answers.

Overwhelming choice... not

Three flats up for grabs today. South Camden, Bloomsbury and Kings Cross.

Three flats, hundreds of bidders.

There is no point to my bidding for one of them. I was 125th for one flat last week and 169th for the other.

I'd also have to change my son's school if pigs flew and I was successful.

When they evict me from here, I will have no choice, whatsoever, where we're sent.

Funny innit

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

VAT Benefits

So, child benefits freeze
VAT raised

I see no benefits in vat, I mean that

Housing benefit cuts the most damaging I said?

My mistake... the whole lot...

Cutting housing benefit

What the fuck is that all about? People are placed in flats they cannot afford, so they are working and have to claim housing benefit and that now will be cut? What will these people do?

I regret sending those politicians my story of an election/eviction because they've used it as a template to make the most damaging cut of all.

Thousands of children are living in workless families, said the chancellor.

Parenting isn't work? He has a nanny presumably.

Parenting and juggling a low paid job living in a private sector flat. Where does someone go from there...?

The guy has no idea

Feeling better?

I had a beautiful weekend. My son sailed through his confession with a ginormous yawn, I had lunch with my uncle and cousin who've I've not seen for over two years. I met her eight month old baby, a quiet little bundle of smiles.

Back in London I sailed to Bethnal Green in 40 minutes and immersed myself in the good vibes of the Bangladeshi community I'm assisting.

The sky is blue, the air is warm, I can't seem to get rid of Friday's weight.

I got a call from a social worker who said she'd been referred by the council. I said I needed support with housing, she said she couldn't help with that, she wasn't there to support me, she was there to support my son. My son, my son, she kept using his given name, not the name I and everyone else call him by. "Is he happy? Where's his father? Is he doing well at school? The council worker didn't tell me you were being evicted. When? He said your flat was quite cluttered..." On and on. She asked if she could phone my son's school and his GP. I've not heard back.

I also got a letter from my MP who says he's very "sorry", that he's "at a loss how to help me". He included a letter from the council which said I had "insufficient points" and that it had "no control over end date of the lease that Pathmeads Housing Association have in relation to this property."

Bumped into Lucky this morning. Social workers are hounding her case, sorting out access with her daughter's father and not including her in it at all. "Don't go there," she advised me. "Don't go there at all. They don't realise the parent is the first point of support and if you're ok the child will be ok. They just make you feel worse."

Dobbie's given me a link though. "If you are of the view that there is anything more I can do which is likely to help, please do let me know."

He has a surgery a week on Saturday. I'll take my child.

I think what makes thoughts of death so acutely awful in one sense is that the world is looking beautiful under it's blue sky and hot sun. You wonder how it comes beckoning.

I'm wearing my red dress today.

"You look pretty mummy," said my boy this morning.

Like I said, you wonder how the thoughts come beckoning. I'll stop writing about it now. It's just the way things are.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Horoscopes and Haiku's

Good job I read my horoscope this morning. It said:

I am beginning to feel a little bit like a relationship counsellor. Yesterday, I attempted to mediate a conversation between you and your luck. Today, I carry with me another request, this time on your confidence. It, too, would like a negotiation session. It feels ignored, undermined, disempowered. It wants to spend more time with you. But apparently, you are giving all your attention to a fascinating annoyance or a mesmerising anxiety, leaving your confidence bereft and abandoned. This weekend brings a real opportunity to patch things up.

Good job because this is the haiku I felt would be better not to blog this morning:

If death were my friend
I'd shake its hand and say hi
but I'd miss my son

I'm taking my son to my parents later. My mum said she'd inflate the blowup mattress for him in the room we share and cook our favourite meal.

Like I said yesterday, it's good space for convalescence. My son's going to be doing his first confession. Should I do my first confession in decades too?

I might pop into a church and have a little pray. I can't seem to stop crying.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

"Don't beg" said the hairdresser

Fuck it.

Dear [Allocations],

I have just been to view [the flat I bid on]. I know I wasn't shortlisted but you can't blame me really.

I spoke to some of the couples waiting.
A Bangladeshi couple, with one five year old child, who have been waiting two years. They currently live with their parents. 484 points.

An English couple, with one three year old child, have been waiting one year. They currently live with her mother. "Just under 500 points" the mum said to me. She said she was fourth on the list.

They were all couples, every one there.

I am on my own, with a seven year old child, I have been waiting five years in temporary accommodation. Six years since the Church evicted us. I have a history of evictions since my child was born. 351 points.

I spoke to the estate manager. He remembers me from when I turned up at a viewing last September. He told me he didn't understand why the council wouldn't house me and my son, why our points were so low. The council's remit is to prevent homelessness and I should ask the council to prevent mine and try and get more points.

I asked him if he could write to you on our behalf and he said he couldn't because I wasn't his tenant, I was a housing association tenant. He told me to speak to my case worker but of course, [my support manager] has been taken off my case. [The Support Services Manager] came to see me this morning to tell me he isn't my new support worker, he simply needed to work out what my support needs were.

[Allocations], my son goes into year 3 in September. He is secure at his school, but he needs a secure foundation with me so that his life doesn't keep getting turned upside down. These families viewing have been waiting such little time, with so many points. I do not understand.

I have cc'd [The Leader of the Council] because I spoke to him the other day and he asked me to send him an email. [Allocations], you are now my only remaining point of contact in the council.

Something can be done to help my son and me. This system is leaving us behind, is failing to consider the needs of my son.

The Bangladeshi couple accepted the flat. For the short time I have remaining here they will be nice neighbours. I wish the security for my child they were successful in attaining for theirs this morning.

Kind regards,

Sue de Nim

Tears and Nico Teen

The man who came round is not my new support worker. He is a manager who came to ascertain what kind of support I need.

Questions, questions. I couldn't stop crying. Nico Teen was on hand to help but no doing. Not often as a parent you feel the weight of responsibility, so heavy it is. It's easier, day to day, to take little steps; cook what you need to cook, tidy what you need to tidy, clean what you have to clean, soothe what you have to sooth, teach what you have to teach, take child to activity, pick child up.

Then every now and then, the weight of responsibility comes along and kicks you in the stomach. Provide a home for that child, provide stability, provide security. Provide, provide, provide...

"I can see you're not coping," said the man. "I'm worried about your welfare. I can't believe, I mean, I can believe, I don't know why no-one's told you where you're going."

"Because THEY DON'T KNOW." The tears sprayed from my lips. Rolled another cigarette.

He said he wanted to get in touch with social workers. I told him they'd written to me saying they couldn't help.

"I want security," how calm the voice as the tears drop down. "I want a council flat."

"You won't get that but I'll make some enquiries about your case."

Oh I don't know. I don't know anything anymore.

Eating Fruit

The hairdresser started it. As you know, Thursday's are a difficult day for me so I trooped off to the newsagent after the school run to see if I had a winning lottery ticket. I didn't.

"Imagine life is a fruit bowl," said the hairdresser whose shop is just next door. I told him it was bidding day you see. "You have eaten all the fruit from your bowl, there is nothing left. You have to find a new bowl, eat different fruit, and then you will be successful."

"What fruit, what? I wrote to the Libdem people saying I was all out of ideas. I spoke to the leader of the council."

"You have to find a different way, the right way for you. This area doesn't want you. It is evicting you, it's telling you to leave Maybe you have to start again, go back to your parents, they will care for you."

"I can't," I wobbled as my eyes were pricked and began to water.

"Of course you can. You're parents can help you. You need to eat different fruit!"

I tried to laugh to halt the stem of tears, at the same time imagining the little room my son and I share there, his blow-up mattress by my bed. Fine for convalesence for a few days, but for months, years... a home, all I want, our home.

I walked away, turning my head so the blue sky would dry my eyes and heard "Sue?" It was Molly, the mum who spent six years in a hostel. "Are you ok?" and I nodded yes as the tears fell free fall and she gave me a hug, because she knows what it's like.

My hairdresser's right. North London doesn't want me. Nothing but evictions since I moved here 8 years ago. Where does want me though? Where? What bowl of fruit?

I had, I am jam on toast. Strawberry. Wrong fruit.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

A wasted morning?

I've just been outside for the last time to see if any of the flat viewers are out there. In, out, in, out, shakin' it all about all morning. Nothing, no-one. Maybe they're coming tomorrow. Tomorrow.....

My new support worker's coming round. He called while I was spinning in circles. He's not got the same name as my old support worker told me on the phone, will I just meet him once like the 'manager' two years ago, who delivered the Christmas news that me and my son would go in a hostel when we were evicted in 18 months time... (Can you fecking believe it, a month and a half left...)

I'll be in and out while he sits here, seeing if there are any viewers outside. Ha, it would really be something if they arrived while he was with me...

So a wasted morning?

No, not quite.

Bumped into my next door neighbour who told me the man who lived directly above her had been dead in his flat for four weeks before the council found him a few weeks ago. They have since put in "a couple of crack heads who [she hears] fightin' at 5, 6 in the mornin'..."

She's on the transfer list for a one bed and viewed one a few weeks ago, which was "a shit hole, everyone turned it down." What annoyed her, she said, was that she was the only English person in the group viewing it, the others were "Asians".

She also got angry on my behalf, which was nice. She can't understand why the council won't just house us. "It's illegal for your son to be sharing a room with you." As if the council cares about that, I told her.

So as I collected these little nuggets of information (for I know diddly squat what goes on here), I also cleared out some of the clutter in my flat. No, not for support worker coming tomorrow, but because the mess is really overwhelming. I'm drowning in it, just like my head is drowning in all this housing shite.

All in all then, not a wasted morning.

Viewing the two bed

My heart is in my throat beating away, it's left my chest tight. They're viewing the flat down the corridor today. Who's going to turn up?

Just now I've seen a blonde with a buggy outside. I should've stopped and chatted to her. She seemed friendly, smiled at me, I smiled back.

I'm feeling sick aren't I? Will I puke up my heart?

What would it look like I wonder? Scarred with memories, tattoed with dreams?

I don't want this flat on my corridor, I want the widow's upstairs. You know, change of location but not far.

I'm 69th on the list this morning.

I'll go outside for some air.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

The Leader in the playground

I told you I think that the Leader of the Council is a dad at my son's school.

I saw him in the playground this morning. No if's, no but's, must go and chat to him before the bell goes.

He told me there were 18,000 on the list. Yeah yeah I know.
He told me the Government was withholding cash from the borough to build new ones and renovate existing ones. Yeah yeah I know. I've written to the Prime Minister don't you know and his deputy and our local MP....

I've come to talk to you because we need your help goddammit.

He told me to email him.

I zipped off to Bethnal Green for my voluntary work thing and came home and 'ping!' sent the email.

I should have put more questions in it, but ne'er mind, cos a good chance I'll keep on bumping into this one.

The school playground's just got a bit more interesting... for me, not for him of course, but that, thank goodness, isn't my problem.

New beginnings?

Yesterday morning I cycled all the way to Bethnal Green (7 miles?) for my first day's voluntary work thing where I'm learning how to train others in the Participatory Appraisal research thing I did last year.

Yesterday morning I had the mother of all hangovers. England party and picnic weekend. Fun soaked in Al Cohol to celebrate my new year. So much of it. On Saturday Pimms until I was well fruity myself so I wasn't too sour grapes about our draw with the USA (I so wanted us to win what with all that BP lark going on...) Cava until I caved in Sunday. Well, actually, Sunday there was a lot of, beer, a fellow mamma accompanying me home to continue partying.

I think I was still drunk when I woke up. Wouldn't do to pull a sickie, even if my services are for free....Fortunately I was mainly observing. The group we're training though are great! One salt of the earth London mamma, and a dozen Bengali mammas and four Bengali dads. Some British born, some not but really good company! Hopeless with their lovely names but I'm hopeless with names anyway.

Pulled into The Golden Arches afterwards for a vat of coke and a Happy Meal. Same old same old me but hell's bells, a new year comes with new hopes and what a way to start mine!

Friday, 11 June 2010

Mamma upstairs got her 4 bed!!

After 13 years on the transfer list, one of the widows upstairs has finally, finally got a flat. Not the three bed she required from all the years ago, but a four bed so her youngest, my son's age, no longer has to share with her.

She told me this morning as we walked to school. I told her I'd bid again on a flat in our block and she whooped: "I didn't tell you did I? I got a flat!" and there we high fived!

Woo she deserves it. Sometimes we sit outside the block with our Nico Teen swapping stories. Hers involved not only the school like mine, but also the police. The council placed her in a B&B for her and her children's safety but so far away she took the risks and stayed here. Still she had no luck bidding, until last week.

She says it's amazing. She says it's huge with a massive back garden. "It has a front one too! I can't believe it!" she said.

I am really genuinely happy for her but if you need any more evidence of what a fecking lottery this game is, this lovely mamma upstairs wasn't first on the list, she was third. "One and Two rejected it," and she beamed a colossal smile.

Why oh why would someone turn down a four bedroom house with a front and back garden??

Well, my guess is location. Location, location, location. It's important to some of us, like me, like this mamma, though we can't be as fussy as them on that channel four programme, you need only see where I am having turned down that flat three years ago and not viewed a front door since.

Well, good for her! I won't tell Tim and Hannah though for they are desperate for the same.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

I might get the flat on my floor....

Bid this morning on the flat on my floor. Fat chance I'll get it usually, but... but...
The window on the front door is still cracked from when the police bust down the door a few months ago. The lock is still a little scew-if.

If I didn't live here, I wouldn't take it. No bloody way! Who broke it? Someone in the block? Who lives in the block? How bad is crime incidences? How safe is it?

As it was, when I was moved here and saw the burnt out shell of a car in the forecourt, I wanted to run a mile but the council said it would be to a hostel and I knew the Bishop wouldn't let me squat in his flat forever so the first night I locked myself in while a dozen riot police did a drugs bust upstairs. Nice welcome.

How many will turn it down I wonder?

(That two bed is £96 a week. £250 a week for this one bed. Not rocket science the demand for these places)

I don't like Thursdays - a song

The silicon chip inside my head
Gets switched to overload
And everybody’s gonna go to bid today
In the hope to get a home
My baby doesn’t understand it
He always thinks I'm as good as gold
And he can see no reasons'
Cos there are no reasons
What reason do you need to be show-ow-ow-ow-own?

Tell me why I don’t like Thursdays
Tell me why I don’t like Thursdays
Tell me why I don’t like Thursdays
I wanna shoo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oot the whole day down

The PR machine is kept so clean
And it types to a waiting world
The father feels so shocked
Young son’s world is rocked
And their thoughts turn to that own little mum
A stigmum ain’t that peachy clean
Now that ain’t so neat to admit defeat
They can see no reasons'
Cos there are no reasons
What reasons do you need?
Oh Oh Oh Oh

Tell me why I don’t like Thursdays
Tell me why I don’t like Thursdays
Tell me why I don’t like Thursdays
I wanna shoo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oot
The whole day down, down, down, shoot myself down

And all the bidding's stopped in the home site now
I want to play with the dreams a while
And council's out early and soon you'll be learning
And the lesson today is how to die
And then the bullhorn crackles
And the captain tackles
With the problems of the how's and why's
And he can see no reasons'
Cos there are no reasons
What reason do you need to die, die?
Oh Oh Oh

And the silicon chip inside her head
Gets switched to overload
And everybody’s gonna go to bid today
In the hope to get a home
Her baby doesn’t understand it
He always thinks she's as good as gold
And he can see no reasons
Cos there are no reasons
What reason do you need to be show-ow-ow-ow-own?

Tell me why I don’t like Thursdays
Tell me why I don’t like Thursdays
Tell me why I don’t like I don’t like
(Tell me why) I don’t like Thursdays
Tell me why I don’t like I don’t like
(Tell me why) I don’t like Thursdays
Tell me why I don't like Thursdays
I wanna shoo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oot the whole day down

(Boomtown Rats featuring Stigmum)

Will we get the flat on my floor?

Dear [Allocations],

I knew the girl who lived [on my floor], I've known that [the flat] is empty. My son has been asking if we can move into it. What do I say with my history of emailing you? I placed a bid on it today. I placed another on a flat in [Kentish Town]. He'd cycle to school but not too far for him. Camden is a large borough, I don't wish to move him from his school.

This morning I've had to run upstairs to [the 7th floor], which I bid on not long ago, because Sky package post belonging to the couple who moved in keeps coming to me. A couple. I don't doubt they have needs that differ to a single mother like me but I have to handle all mine and my son's needs alone. She was in her dressing gown, the government won't force her back to work. Wow, they might even get a tax incentive for being together. The Tories have already started on the likes of me. Cutting housing benefit is the latest I've heard. What's the future for my child?

You can assure me I haven't been left behind but I can assure you that I can't believe that. Thursday's are tough. Laughing I've been told not to bother bidding, I've been told to bid but I'll be unsuccessful. It's only you who tells me to bid and be hopeful.

Six years waiting. Three years without so much as "legally" viewing a flat. I'm having nightmares; rifling through concertina files not finding what I'm after and being told by someone to 'go away', climbing ladders and not getting past the first rung, putting my head into a waiting noose but then seeing my son so pulling my head out of it. I can't even die in a dream.

Many people in the council know who I am now. You may know, they might contact you. [My support worker] has been taken off my case. The one person who understood and helped me and I've had quite a few support workers. As you know, I asked for him back because he was the only one who cared. The new one hasn't contacted me yet and it's been over a month. What he can do when he does get in touch though, not knowing my case or me or my son or our needs, I just don't know.

I have bid on two properties this week. Please talk to whoever you can so that we are invited to view one of them.

Thanks very much.

Kind regards

Sue de Nim

Wednesday, 9 June 2010


It's my dad's birthday today. Seventy something! Seeing June 9th on blogspot, I suddenly thought 'call him!' So easy for such simple actions to slip the mind.

"I'm so lucky to be calling you today!" I said after singing to him.

"Yes, you are, thank you for remembering me," he said.

My dad's a good man.

On Sunday it was my son's first holy communion. The lucky chappy had all his grandparents there. His other granddad has alzheimers. My dad doesn't have that but a succession of on going mini strokes has played havoc with his memory.

"Do I know you?" said my ex father out law to my dad.
"No you don't," replied my father.

My nephew laughed and told my mum, my sister, my brother. We all laughed, these two old men not meaning to entertain us.

My dad's sister has alzheimers. My dad could have genuinely forgotten who the ex father out law was (especially after so many years), but I think he was sparing my son's grandfather. It's painful reaching out and not remembering.

Happy Birthday pappie! To take my son's other granddad's words from that Sunday:


I am failing my life

Extraordinary isn't it, you come back from a wonderful holiday and rather your dreams be filled with memories of sun and laughter you're climbing up a ladder and never getting beyond the second step. Left foot on the solid first rung as the right steps through the second back to the first and the left climbs and falls back down, right, left, right, left, over and over climbing failing climbing failing

Failing, failing, failing.

I am not failing my child. Not yet. A game of Monopoly yesterday afternoon, the meal he wanted cooked. Chatted to him at bath time, stroked his tired head as he went to bed. I am doing the mother thing, I am enjoying the mother thing, I love being a mother.

It's not enough.

To call your life a success, you have to have a partner or a job or a secure home. To call your life a success, you have to have all three. I have none of these things. As my birthday approaches, yet another birthday, none of them.

If parenting is tough, the external pressures and requirements of ones life are tougher. I don't have the will or the strength for it. I have to find the will and the strength.

It's one thing to fail your life, it's quite another to have your child tumble down with you.

Don't think about it.

Think about picnics. Of cheese and cucumber sandwiches, of Cava, of sky above and grass below.

Daydreams are better than nightmares.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

A new support worker

I have a new support worker.

Mine, the one I fought for, the one who knows me and does the best he can to help me, called me last Tuesday.

"Withheld" said my mobile and I thought for a minute that it was the council asking me to view one of the properties on the nice streets near my school.

No such luck and worse.

My support worker has been moved to help families in the private sector in a re-shuffle.

"Has he called you?" asked my support worker.
"Have you heard from him at all?"
"I'm really sorry. There was nothing I could do about it. He's a nice guy though."

I don't know who this new person is. He doesn't know me. He's making no attempt to get to know me.

If I'm feeling desperate I don't know who to call.

If I get a politician to help me I can't give the number of the man who knows me, who knows my case.

Continuity of care?

Ho ho ho

Electricity call outs cost, just to warn you

Why, why do I owe EDF an "outstanding balance of £41" when my electric meter is prepay and I shouldn't owe a thing?

Well I had to call them didn't I. So I just did.

Back in March the electrics were giving off sparks before finally dying and plunging me in the dark.

The Property Owner called the suppliers and then got her own electrician to come and fix the fuse box.

I owe the suppliers because they were called out and found no fault. The fuse box is not their fault. When plunged in darkness with sparks flying and the fear of fire imminent, the wrong thing to do is call the supplier. They do "everything up to an including the meter, the fusebox is internal and the property owner's responsibility."

If I want my £41 back, I have to call the property owner. It's not a happy honeymoon relationship between us since she sent me a "letter of warning". I do not want to talk to her and have her bully boyfriend take the call.

So, lucky them, I am carrying the cost of their call out because the less I have to do with them the better.

My meter has swallowed £1.50 in two days. The £10 I put on it this morning is not going to last the week as EDF "will be collecting this [£41] directly from your prepayment meter at £3.00 per week." A pricey summer therefore.

I'd rather give the money to street children in Brazil if I'm honest with you, not inflate the bank accounts of those who already have heavy pockets.

What can I say, I'm not liking my life today.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Better than a kick in a teeth....

Letter from Downing St saying the Prime Minister "is most grateful for the time and trouble you have taken to get in touch and for informing him of your views". Hmmm, yes, let's hear what he says today about cuts cuts cuts, especially about welfare.....

The letter says "the Department for Communities and Local Government is best placed to respond to matters you raise" so Cameron has asked that my letter be forwarded there.

Groundhog day. That's what Brown did.....

Letter from the House of Commons from my MP, saying he's sorry he's taken so long to reply (Quicker than Downing st!), that he has forwarded my letter to the Council's Director of Housing. He'll write as soon as he gets a response and hopes his intervention helps. I hope it does too. I wonder if he also sent my "Story of an Election/Eviction". Hmmm, must go see him at his surgery soon.

The council email I opened last night. Silly silly me.

I know you find it frustrating that you come across people who seem to get rehoused quicker than you, but different households have different needs and sometimes this is reflected in the points they are awarded. Unfortunately, I cannot comment further about [the Polish mother] you mention below as there is insufficient information to enable me to do so.

No indication of permanent housing and I've already seen that of course, the amazing street properties close to my son school have gone to someone else... as expected.

So yes, though that council email was a kick in the teeth, I can't say at this juncture that the letters received from the men at the top were.

Does mean I need a plan of action however. Must think about this... so don't want to think about this...

My son found the mobile charger in his Croc this morning. There's symbolism in that, I like it!

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Glad to be back?

Amazing break, a real break
Not glad to be back
Letters await me
Can wait until tomorrow

Amazing friends, real friends
still in my heart
My son's holy communion
bought tears to my eyes

Same as bloody EDF
Charging £41 "outstanding payment"
What? On a prepay meter?
Why I'm not opening more letters

One from Downing Street
One from House of Commons
Email from Council
Can wait the bad news....

Lost my charger
It charged off,
it is a mobile after all,
but where?

Tell you
Coming back to the Tower
It's not good to be back
but I'm holding the good in my soul

Thanks guys
Thanks my family
Thanks my beautiful son
Thanks xxx