Saturday, 28 May 2011

The Revolution will be live

RIP Gil Scott-Heron, the "Godfather of Hip-Hop" who died yesterday aged 62.

I'm going to take a break from blogging. I haven't figured out what I'm going to say to Dobbie and I need to get it all straight in my head.

I was going to stop being Stigmum's conduit forever today.

I was going to stop blogging. That was my plan. In my head.

Quite fitting, if I can't go out on a happy ending, I go out on a protest!

This was never the song I was going to end it on though, so I guess I've got to come back!

Happy Bank Holiday all and happy half term to the kiddies, especially mine, who's in Barcelona right now as the city plays football against Manchester United at Wembley, London.

I love you my son my sun and remember, I said I was in your heart so not far if you need me, and you are in mine, a comfort when I miss you x

Bleed the Banks, not the NHS

Subsidy to the Banks: £100bn. Cuts to the NHS: £20bn. Sound fair to you?

UKuncut staged protests all over the UK today in an Emergency Operation against Andrew Lansleys proposed attack against the NHS.

In Camden the protests were staged outside the three main banks. A friend of mine had made a monopoly board, where we flippantly bought up a hospital for a couple of hundred pounds or picked a card from the 'No Community Chest' to be told that due to funding cuts the heart operation in desperate need would have to wait a further six months. Couldn't buy the railways because they were already sold.....

I was dressed like a corpse, in black, surrounded by people dressed as doctors, nurses and patients who were all drawing attention to the £100bn subsidy the government pays to banks.

I kept my flyer so I could share with you what I learnt:

A recent BBC investigation found HSBC used a tax loophole to divert millions of pounds of NHS money to a Guernsey tax have.

In 2010 a company set up by HSBC made more than £38m from its 33 PFI hospital building schemes and paid only £100,000 in UK tax - less than half of its 1% profits.

Stuart Gulliver, the new chief executive of HsBC, recently received a honus of £9m - which could pay the annual salary of 400 nurses.

"Lansley - Leave our NHS alone. It's the banks that are sick!"

Andrew Lansley's Health and Social Care Bill would open up health care to multi-national private companies.
Big business and banks get bail outs and evade paying £120 billion in tax each year but the government says public services have to pay for the crisis.

You know they aim to cut £20 billion from the NHS.

What does this mean in your area?
How many health workers will lose their jobs and hospitals close?

Here, have the full story and some pics:

My lovely Camden in the Sun - The Sun! Cuts kill: the dead lying on the monopoly board:

And lots of pictures of my lovely Camden in the Mail:

And some super ones here:

The message is getting through. I very much hope it does so on all levels. I applaud UKuncut for their intelligent visual forms of "civil disobedience". I do not applaud government policies that require a need for it.

Stewart Lee is very funny!!

By chance last night I got a free ticket, courtesy of my friend Steve, to see the comedian Stewart Lee at the Royal Festival Hall.

"Are you a fan?" asked Steve, who'd left a message on facebook hours earlier saying he had a spare.
"Well, I don't know if I'm a fan of him, but I am a fan of comedy!" I replied. I really didn't know what to expect, but hey, entertainment + friend = happy stiggers, what can I say?

It was brilliant! It was so good! I was late, it was a three hour show he was performing, and I arrived just after the 1st interval.

He started making gags about charity. Working for charity, giving charity. Highlighting US figures that the wealthiest give 1% and the poorest over 3% of their salaries. I'd seen on twitter, which I retweeted the other day:

Poorest 10% households give 3.2% of income to charity, but richest 10% give only 0.8% (Cabinet Office figs)

The poor wouldn't be so poor if they didn't give so much! Of course I can't retell it. Lee said he wasn't altruistic, didn't give because he cared, gave because it made him feel good and then did excellent sketches on other comedians earning millions subtly, gently pointing out, that they are not altruistic either....

My favourite were the political sketches.

I may have been the only one who laughed when he compared David Cameron to the murdering Roahl Moat. But then I was high in the Gods and couldn't hear those below.

In the 80's, Lee said, the mood was anti tory, today is anti-electronic. I thought that would be it, no political satire but he delivered a sketch of Cameron's uni days which was right on the nail.
I can't recreate it for you, as Lee sat there on stage, with a guitar, which he said he wouldn't play, but was all part of his act, of course. He painted a picture of Cameron as what I can only describe as a smarmy character.

He is isn't he? Smarmy. Cameron? Don't you think so?

Top night. Top to see Steve who I haven't seen for ages, ages ages.

I was supposed to go see The Estimators play but I estimated the time all wrong. When I got home I realised the bar shut at 1.30am and I would have got there after Lee's show. Dancing to SKA music would've been the perfect end to a perfect evening.

As it was, I levelled my feelings with two slices of toast and marmite and a mug of tea. Lovely. Can't believe the Danes have banned our delicious spread from their shops.
No, I have no comic comeback for that - I wish! - it's just random thoughts that come to me in the quiet of a night.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Blogging identity crisis

First and foremost I should like to thank the Dotterel for his post along the same theme as mine.
At times, these days, I can feel cast adrift as some of you already know. This morning as I've bobbed along the blogspot oceon, ahoy! Someone else going through an identity crisis!!!

Like me, he writes about random things. He's called out to his readers for help whilst going through his existential crisis, but I can't do that, I can't even call upon myself. Thank goodness then, there are other boats bobbing along the blogging blue.

You know, you know I was going to stop this blog. My crisis has come not because I started but because I started again.

How can I tell you I write what I don't want to write about? Obviously I do write what I want to write about otherwise I wouldn't write it would I? It's not like someone is paying me to write what I write. So what's my flipping problem???

Housing was/is Stigmum's identity. We campaign!! Yeah, we do!! But unlike other campaigning blogs, my campaign, crikey, dare I say it, bores me. Doesn't bore stiggers, bores me. Bores me to suicidal thinking. I know, I shouldn't admit that, precisely as I'm about to go and ask an MP to get me a statutory instrument (whatever that is). Yeah, I am asking for it, not Stiggers. Go figure my crisis....

This morning, what do I write about? Rape. Rape for goodness sake. Rape doesn't bore me in quite the same way housing does but I've written about it alot recently and it's starting to hurt.
Me and stigs wanted to change subject but to what and how..

Well, what.. we knew.. my son.. my son's gone away today..but how to write it... don't know because that has been hurting all week in truth and today simply aches.

That's the problem I guess isn't it. Me and Stigmum, Stigmum and Me. We're not the same people and we are precisely the same people. I think I want something different to what she wants but I don't, I want the same thing. Only I never knew how difficult it could be to write about the things that are so, gosh, grim to contemplate.

My son's not grim to contemplate. I envy some of the bloggers who write about their children, put pictures up of them. I don't know what bars me writing about mine to a similar extent.

Maybe, maybe my problem is, that I'm not where Stigmum was anymore. She was in a dark, dark place and for the purpose of the blog she wanted me to write it down. Now she's in a lighter place, she can see around her a bit better.

She still wants me to write it down but I want to break free.

It's this new house, it must be. It's not a prison like the old one was or perhaps, ha ha, it's a luxurious one..anyway, blogging's not been the same since we moved here. The songs that have been coming to mind reflect that. Had I lost battle and ended up in a hostel I shudder to think what I'd be writing about now. You'd get songs though, lots.

Throw me a song now Stiggers. She won't though. Maybe she can't anymore. Music is her therapy and I don't need it, or can't need it.

I don't know
I don't know!
I really don't know but I guess that is totally normal for someone going through an identity crisis. There's no crisis after all, if you know, is there?

I may play some Doris!

Thank God in my real life I know who I am!

Remind me who am I stiggers?

Awaiting trial in luxury

I've been oddly drawn to prison programmes of late; Strangeways on ITV and Louis Theroux's excellent, shocking BBC documentary of a Miami mega jail, where inmates awaiting trial are 20 to a cell and regularly beat one another up, sexually assault those weaker and so on and so forth. Crimes range from driving while on a suspended sentence to robbery, rape, murder, all sorts.

Over in New York, Dominque Strauss Kahn, ex IMF boss is also awaiting trial for alleged sexual assault on a hotel chambermaid. He has avoided a similar experience to his poorer Miami peers and has been holed up in a luxury flat complete with spa and gym, according to the Metro. Alright for some ey?

His lawyers are arguing Kahn is not guilty and the sex was consensual... Of course of course, which is why cases over here get thrown out of court for 'lack of evidence'. I hope the laws are somewhat stricter stateside but who knows if comfortable detention like this for the wealthy is anything to go by.

Next to this article in the paper, an "Italian porn star" says she met Kahn a few years ago. "She said he was just a 'libertine'," quotes the paper, "who did not need to rape women "because he can pay for an escort or go to a club."

Oh dear, let's hope the courts recognise that sexual assault and rape is never about sex but about power and control and possibly for Kahn, given the number of women coming out about him now, the thrill of getting away with it.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

"How does it feel?"

Am I sitting here writing on purpose? I'm meant to be at Boot Camp. I'm dressed for it.

Stressy morning, we all get them, up too late, kid playing up, wash a cup of tea down between quick shower and dress, got to pack clothes for work, but then everything starts to unravel because where are the fecking trainers????

Did find them eventually, in the cupboard (aren't I organised...) but then the chain came off my bike when we got to school and wouldn't go back on again so I took it to the bike shop and the man said it needed oiling, that the chain and gears were otherwise fine. About to go to the coffee shop on way to bootcamp but realise I have picked up the wrong keys. I can go to bootcamp and leave the bike in the hall but then I can't go to work and leave it anywhere.

OH go home....

I could've gone, made it back up there now, with the proper keys. I wanted to go but in truth, I already felt defeated.

Two weeks ago at the end of class the Master got two of the strongest girls on the floor in a lock and told the rest of us to watch 'her' escape.

Ditso me, says "which one's trying to escape?"

The Master stares at me: "Which one do you think?"

"Well I don't know, Mistress Mountain at the bottom is the obvious choice but maybe somehow she can get Mistress Twin off her and in the weaker position."

"You get under her," he says. "Mistress Mountain, swap with Fist of the Northern Star," (no, he didn't call me that, wonder if it would have helped though...)

I get under Mistress Twin. She has one arm round my neck and the other pinning down my right arm. Her body weight is on me and I can still move my legs.

I try to wrestle her off me.

I can't.

My legs spin, but still I can't get her off me.

"How does it feel?" says the Master.

"Really unpleasant," I say.

"Describe it to us, go on," he says


"You can do better than that, you're the writer, go on, articulate yourself,"

"I can't..." The shame was beginning to creep up. It didn't really end there either. After I was up and free, he asked me how old I was. I couldn't even make a joke about it. When La Francaise got under and aked whether she could pull Mistress Twin's hair, I ventured to say 'what if it's a guy who has no hair to grab on to?" and the Master starts going on about how we're in class and "this isn't some fantasy". I felt so humiliated but slightly vindicated when he said he would teach us how to extracate ourselves from a lock like that.

I wanted to go this morning. Were there really obstacles in my way or was I simply too stressed to see that they weren't, I only had to breathe a little?

Stiggers saying to come back and write. I found a meditation tape from my mindfulness therapy course yesterday and I will do that later this morning. I will remain in uniform while I do it. I feel safe inside it after my 'bodyquake' last year.

I didn't tell you did I, because I deleted it from the entry I posted about Ken Clarke's comments last week - I got a letter from the sexual health clinic saying my psychotherapy regarding yestercentury's rapes would begin in month. I don't want to need it.

We may have sparred today, as we do each week. My son did it at his Kung Fu on Tuesday. It's an important skill, to be aware of your body and what it can do in a fight or flight situation. It's important to be aware of your mind too and what that can do.

I can neither attack nor defend today.

I just have to be still.

Be still


Wednesday, 25 May 2011

"Thought provoking" rape stories

Kenneth Clarke, our Justice Secretary, has met the attempted rape victim who challenged him in a radio address last week over his plans to reduce sentences for men who plead guilty.

Apparently he found her story "thought provoking" and promises to "reflect carefully on our useful discussion."

He claims his proposal for reduced sentences protects women from having to go through the trauma of going through a lengthy jury trial but I wonder who believes that. I wonder if it really is about money; it costs to keep offenders in prison.

I wonder if he read the thought provoking article in Saturday's Daily Mirror:

"A TOTAL of 190 rapists have been let off with a caution in the past five years," says the paper. "And a further 12,842 rape claims were not taken further due to lack of evidence." (Page 9)

On the local news last week, a woman sacrificed her anonymity to say she was raped by a man who had just been released from prison for the same offence.

I don't see how reducing sentences for guilty pleas is going to solve anything when so many walk free by simply denying it.

I will say though, what I hope we do not read right now, is a woman making a false accusation against a man. Sadly, although unusual, it happens and all it does is muddy waters that result in thousands of legitimate cases not making it to court at all, never mind any convictions.

There is opportunity for progress now, for women and for male rape victims, but does the Tory party really want it?

When it's hard to get started blogwise

Well that's the title done...phew, thank goodness for that!

I can't get started this morning here in Blogland. That's usually not my problem, I'll just ramble on about anything.

This morning's ideas were, in no particular order, ken clarke on rape, again, but I can't find my copy of the weekend's Mirror, the universal credit replacing welfare, maybe chuck in a bit of religion from a reading I heard on Sunday (how do we do that one stiggers?)and possibly write about angel blessings. My son didn't want to go to school this morning and I was in no mood to take him, which I was fool enough to tell him for he leapt around in glee at the thought of not going then had a meltdown which I could only deal with by telling him I was legally obliged to take him.

Basically, I'm not short of ideas.

I've got a kind of writer's block, something me and stiggers rarely have on here.

It's followers and comments, I know it is, that's got me all confused!!

There is something in here that people like!

In the past I've floated along thinking...

So anyway, I have done 4 sets of 50 skips as I figure how to come on here this morning. Such a sunny day out on my balcony it was quite pleasant actually!!

While skipping I thought perhaps I could go to the recycling centre, get myself a new bag after whoever stole mine last Thursday, leaving my rubbish. As I walk there, I can think what to write, or how, you know, a kind of edit. Then when I come home, I can fill the bag with old newspapers....

Chill mamma!

Last night as I dropped in on various bloggers, I read a question that the American Resident posted: Why do you read blogs?

It's excellent; have a read, read the comments. People read blogs for all kinds of reasons. If I'm thinking of tailoring mine to the desires of new followers, each with their unique desires, then blogging is not going to be so enjoyable anymore and I'm liable to get lost, like maybe I'm lost this morning.

So my advice to you, if you can't get started, is just write any old thing any old how...

Then go out for a walk/tidy the house/skip 100 times and tell yourself to stay close to yourself, write what you want to write; it's what attracts you to others isn't it? It's probably what attracts people to you

(or not in our case ey Stiggers but go with the flow yeah, keep hold of the paddle and trussssst!)

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

I've joined Blog Hoppers...?!

Britmums have started this Blog Hopping thing
With the best will in the world today, I do not understand what blog hopping is or how it works. Today, I understand very little.
No reason though, not to take part!

I have to post a code which I will do in a minute but just for you, incase like me, you don't know what blog hopping is, here is the explanation:

A blog hop is a linky list that is SHARED ON MULTIPLE BLOGS. When several blogs put the same linky list code on their blog, the exact same list appears on each blog. Blog visitors can submit their entries on any blog that contains the list. The entries will appear on each blog where the list resides.Blog readers see the same list on each blog, and can "HOP" from blog to blog seeing the same list of links to follow: BLOG HOP!

I'm sure all will become clear, or perhaps not, I just know that I must hop off (arf) to lunch with my friend Jo and I mustn't tire the woman with housing and benefits and all that rubbish that I blog about (it's not rubbish says stiggers)

Anyway, here goes:

Circle of Mom winners revealed!!

Blimey, what a contest!! Who are the Top 25 blogs on Single Parenting.

For a long while The Pepperific Life was in the lead and then Dad In Real Life appeared and they were battling it out, each at some point taking top position.

Who would win????
Drum Roll

Dad In Real Life with a staggering 1678 votes
Pepperific Life a close second with 1610 votes
Third was Life with Eliza Grace 986 votes so yeah, dad and mum there at the top the clear winners.

Me, I got 24 votes!!! Thank you everybody!!!! It means I did not come in the bottom 25!
Ok, I admit I gave myself 6 votes and had I 19 votes (19!!! Thank you everybody!!) I would have been in the bottom 25 which is fine, I don't have zillions of followers!

The great news of the contest?
notSupermum made it into the Top 25!!!

Wee heeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!

I knew she should as she is great and has lots of followers to vote for her and I did my best so yes, terrific news!!

For the full list of winners... hey there are no losers, some people entered their blogs the day before! For the full list of winners:


Will anyone stop the Localism Bill?

"The localism bill seeks to absolve the state from any responsibility for housing provision, or for cleaning up the mess when the market fails to deliver the homes we need."

The last line of Glyn Robbins excellent article about the Housing Bill due to be read this week.

In my package to Clegg I wrote "It's not to late to reconsider the bill" on the article I sent him about capping landlords not tenants. Next to my viewpoint was a letter by someone else urging the Libdems to oppose housing policy. A voice added to mine. There are plenty of voices, they are just not being heard.

Only I was, for a short time, yesterday. I spoke, well wrote and I was answered during a live debate taking place on Guardian Online:
How can housing associations tackle unemployment?

Objectively, a great debate. Oh how do we help the helpless? It was also interesting, I'm sure, for the panelists. For me it was really too hard, many things are great in theory but I'm still reeling at the few that profit at the expense of the poor, all legislated by Government.

Anyway, work isn't really Stiggers domain, housing is!!
Housing and work are married of course and these new policies to up housing association rent to 80% of the market share coupled with fixed term leases.. well work is a frightening concept, I for one am so scared the impact will have on my family should I get affordable rent - I stay poor or risk eviction.

The panelists, largely housing association were having a grown up debate (FTT is a Fixed Term Tenancy - the bolding is all me, what I hear):

From the moderator: A quick question for the Panel,
How do you think the introduction of fixed term tenancies will affect social landlords' ability to engage with their tenants and make the most out of their support provisions?

Jo, not panellist, but professional I assume: I don't think there's any denying that they way things look there is a conflict between wanting to get residents into work and the lack of security introduced by FTTs, and this will make consistent engagement, advice and support very challenging. However, I am sure we will see some creative uses of FTTs to encourage people into work and training, I'm just not quite sure how yet!

Tim housing assoc panellist: Interesting question, we would not seek to let at the lower end of the fixed tenancy spectrum as we don't think this provides sufficient stability or opportunity to support them so that they have better choices at the end of the tenancy in terms of housing options.
I believe that if the positives of flexible tenancies are to be realised, we need to support these customers to give them these options otherwise the risks are either continual reissue of tenancies or poorer outcomes - there are clearly risks though and we need to have more active monitoirng and suport during the life of the tenancy.

Anne Marie HA Panel: Its very difficult to gauge but I guess it depends on the standard or avaliability of move-on accommodation. It may be more challenging to get tenants to engage as stability is key and we lose an element of this by offering fixed term tenancies. I guess it depends on how its managed when the tenant signs up to the property. Its needs to be a positive experience with obvious benefits to the tenant.

Andy not a panellist: A fixed term tenancy as short as two years could act as a disincentive to work, with the tenant, rightly or wrongly, concerned that getting a job means losing his or her home. In reality, it is likely that most fixed term tenancies will be for at least five years. Nevertheless, it will still be important for social landlords to engage with tenants throughout these tenancies to ensure tenants will continue to be adequately housed after the term is complete. This is partly about work, but also about changes in household size, health, and other factors. The changes to tenancy will have to be carefully managed.

when I screamed:

RE: Fixed term tenancies. My 8 yr old child and I have been evicted from each of his three homes on lease ends. Now HA, £350wk rent, 2 yr fixed tenancy. My £6 hr job doesn't pay the rent. I chase low rent but when I get it, if I get a "good" job, me and my boy out on our ear again on the fixed term lease? A total, utter, nightmare has been pointed at all future tenants.

And I was heard:

Steve Panellist:
Good points and shows the dilemma / situation that a policy allowing much higher housing association rents in England could make worse.
It does appear that social housing is yet again being seen as the home of last resort and for people on benefit
The lack of security that goes with private rents is a major problem and can be a cause of people losing their jobs if they cannot find a replacement tenancy close to their place of work.
I have had to help a family friend with four children ( one with special educational needs) after they lost their private tenancy through no fault of their own - they are now living in an overcrowded housing association house, but at least they were able to stay in the same school.
The changes to housing and other welfare benefits currently being brought in appear to be creating the ingredients for a perfect storm / mess

A storm yes, a mess absolutely and perfect for whom?

Any political party willing to oppose it?

No, the feckless arseholes are all too busy claiming expenses on their rents and mortgages, or else ey Cameron renting out their gaffes which doesn't fall into "the cheapest 30%" of the area.

Such noise, a terrific noise, not just by me here but no-one in Whitehall, even those Labour ministers who head the rallies I've been to, no-one it seems is willing to properly stand up to what is happening.

Never mind I Don't Know
I Do Not Understand

(My thoughts go out to all those in Joplin Missouri who lost friends and relatives, their homes and their communities in the devasting tornado that struck the town on Sunday Night)

Monday, 23 May 2011

The pain in declaring work

The figures I give may shock you ok, but don't give me a hard time about it please, I've already got it in the neck from people in my own family and of course, our Government.

I went to the CAB last week and basically, the more I work, the worse off I will be. All figures below are from the print out they gave me should I increase the hours I work at the pub (£6 an hour)

Right now, I receive £531 a week in benefits. I know, you think that's way too high so you're pissed off at me. Rrrah rrah rrrrah, scrounger, parasite, layabout, workshy.

3 hours: £18. Income support: 67.50. tax credits: 59.36. Housing benefit: 346. council tax: 20. Work Income and benefits: 531.16 The first £20 is discounted, so in effect, am £18 better off.

4 hours: £24: Income support: 63.50. The rest same. WI/B: 533.16

5 hours: £30; I/S: 57.50. The rest same. WI/B: 533.16

7 hours: £42: I/S: 45.50...WI/B 533.16 (You have to do the maths but I'm not winning if end result is the same)

15 hours: £90: I/S:0 Tax credit: 59.36. H/B: 346. C/T:20 = WI/B 535.66. £20 better off.

Work work work only ever £20 better off.

Then, hang on....

16 hours: £96. I/S: 0. Tax credits: 133.42. H/B: 319.95. C/T: 11.99. WI/B: 581.66 = Here I am better off by £10 from the 3 hours I worked, taking in rent & council tax I am now paying. So £10 better off whilst being £10 worse off than the hour before....

30 hours: £167.68. I/S 0. Tax credits: 125.09. HB.278.77. C/T: 0. WI/B: 591.84. = Minus rent, council tax I receive: 500.84. So £30 worse off than I am now and still hugely reliant on housing benefit. .
At 30 hours I would most certainly be paying full price, no concession for school meals, after school clubs, out of school clubs and there you have it, the trap may of us are in, where work does not pay.

Tomorrow I have to go declare my pub work.
I don't want to do it because I know it is the first step to a life of working poverty, never mind the growing separation from my child; his school shows, all kinds of things.. who'll take him to kung fu? Maybe you think he doesn't have a right to go.
The fact that thousands, millions of others are in a similar situation to what I am or will be, doesn't make me feel better at all.

Skip skip skip to the lou....
skip skip skip to the lou
skip skip skip
My symbolic husband is not an easy system to be married to
Maybe I'll just leave it there

No hang on
The pain in declaring, I said. The headache that follows.
I do understand why some poor perhaps don't do it.
I do not understand why the rich don't either:

1.2 bn: annual cost of benefit fraud
40bn: annual cost of tax avoidance

As people die Cameron recruits Jesus

The stress of facing the government's medical assessments for those on benefits has claimed the life of a father of two, according to the Sunday Mirror. The day before his test, 56 year old Mr Groves, on benefits for three years following a heart attack and a series of strokes, had massive heart attack having spent the night scouring the internet looking for ways to raise cash should he lose his entitlement.

"His widow,57, said being lumped in with 'dole scroungers' and the fear of financial hardship had a devastating effect." (22/5/11 p.28)

In order to press ahead with the tougher assessments for the 1.5 million claimants of incapacity benefits, the Government has awarded Atos, a French medical firm, a £100 million a year contract to carry out the tests. Atos' CEO, Keith Wilman "saw his pay rocket to almost £800,000 a year." Targets ey Wilman, targets...

In the same paper, David Cameron is quoted as saying "Jesus was Founder of the Big Society" (page 22). Oh yeah Dave? Is that belief what helps you sleep at night as your party continues its persecution of the most vulnerable in our society?

Manslaughter on a giant scale is what's happening here isn't it?

Stress Skipping

It is not that I don't enjoy stuffing myself with crisps and biscuits and cakes and sweets because I do, no I don't, yes I do, no I don't


Stressed? I used to smoke
Stressed? I now reach for sugar (in pastry form for added fat)
Stressed? I'm going to start skipping (meals ha ha! Only joking...I can't for a start...)

Blogging, for example. Today, case in point. I want (want stiggers?) to talk about benefits. My response in the face of something so difficult used to be to smoke and smoke and smoke here at my computer. Now, it's to..crikey, anything, to stall the inevitable... The upshot though is that I'm putting on weight and it's not funny because I'm growing out of my clothes.

So, I found the rope that I bought, oooh, pre-son. I never use it. Always mean to of course. To hang myself with heh heh, only kidding!!!

I've done 50 skips already this morning on my balcony (I tripped three times and was knackered by the end).
In a minute, if I am so inclined to eat I will do 50 more.
The advantage is that I drink water afterwards and I do need to drink more water, and not with a teabag dash of milk and two sugars.
Maybe start to drink Green Tea.
Yes, I advised you to do that and haven't been doing it myself....

Anyway, worth a shot isn't it
If it rains, well 50 sit ups!
If I don't like the thought of any of that, I'll just have to learn to relax
Breathe in
Breathe out
And perhaps choose more wisely what to write about....

Friday, 20 May 2011

Discombobulated by new followers!

Gosh, I don't know if I'm truly alone in feeling this, the discombobulation caused by new followers!

For many, the point of blogging is to generate as many followers as possible and I'm sure on that route, many a writer has felt discombobulated. They must do! If they want those followers to stay with them, they must have experienced a 'shit, what do I write about' moment.

That, um, has never been my problem and the fact that I have lost followers, well, reflects that!

However, I have kept some followers and the truth is, when you have so few, the ones you have come to mean an awful lot to you. Well to me anyway.

I'm not suggesting for one minute that if you have 500 followers, most mean nothing to you, but it would be fair to assume you don't write misery on a regular basis, which is why you have so many. (Or you do write misery but you're very funny about it, in which case, tell me who you are!)

Anyway, I'm beginning to digress but you're getting a picture.

I feel discombobulated because old and very recent followers will know I've been thinking of stopping. Thinking about it for longer than I've written about it. Thinking about it, really, since I started blogging again in January.

By my thoughts and constant thinking, I am supposed to stop writing this blog in the next two weeks. Maybe as early as next Friday so my son goes to Spain with his dad and I figure out how to live the week without him and without blogspot. Wean myself off the latter so by my birthday I am ready to stand tall and start again. Somehow.

I was going to write beautifully positive things and then go.

I was going to tell you that I was going to see Dobbie for the statutory instrument and leave it there. I did not want to post that he says 'NO' and nor did I want to keep writing about housing which is my sodding purpose on here (not that you can tell!). Will I get a council flat? They've said no. No no no. I can't keep writing about desiring a shit hole in a sink estate forever and NOR MUST I THINK ABOUT IT. It DEPRESSES ME.

On the other hand, maybe I should write that Dobbie says NO. It's in the public interest to know isn't it, that politicians don't give a shit? (Oh I know you know....)

I told Jen, my most faithful of followers, that I would let her know what becomes of my plans, my dreams, whether I get the arsing council flat I've been fighting seven years for.

Then, a few new followers (not from Twitter I must say!!)

Not only followers, but comments!

And there you go, I'm discombobulated.

I don't know what to do.

If I stay I don't know what to write about.

I love stiggers, I really do but somehow feel her job on here is done (or my job is done.. you see, I don't know)

Anyway, thanks for bearing with me. This was going to be a post about how for once I took out the recycling for collection and this morning see that the bags have been taken and the rubbish left behind!

Hang on, is there symbolism in that :/?

Views on Motherhood

This is where I pinch the comment I left on Frankie P's excellent post about the struggle we sometimes face as a mother. I read it after posting on Twitter that there were some mum jobs I didn't like. I didn't want to cook yesterday evening and I wish I could outsource tidying. So a timely post to know I'm not alone:

My cousin (wks part-time) said last I saw her, feeling really guilty: "You know, I love my daughter, I just hate being a mother." I found it so refreshing! I said "That's alright, I love my son and I love being a mother, I just hate some of the jobs.." We chinked glasses and gulped down the nectar. You a bad mother/person for saying you feel something missing? Not bloody likely! I love being a SAHM even though society doesn't see me as one or want me to be one and I do an utter shite job of it to be honest and I'm sure I wouldn't love it so much if I didn't (heh heh) blog because it's hard and while he's at school, repetitive but if I worked (at another job), then I'd miss stuff like his school assembly.
Perhaps, feeling like something is missing, is normal.
Dare I say that (gulp)?

Perhaps I should add that the 'something missing' feeling does pass, comes and goes! The beauty of emotions are their transcience. Right now I don't feel I'm missing anything, maybe because wider society doesn't think I should have what I do.
I'm supremely aware of how lucky I am to be a stay at home mother
When I was with the Foca I felt supremely lucky to have a job I loved separate to the maternal domestic one.

It's good to read raw open posts like Frankie's. Makes you question stuff ya know? Reminds you that anything you're feeling is felt by someone else, on some level, at some point.

Thanks Frankie P!

Thursday, 19 May 2011

The pub where I work

"What's it really like?" asked the Esitmator and single mum traveller in the coffee shop earlier this week, wondering about my shift at the Last Local Pub (almost).

"Well, put it this way," I said. "I went outside to collect some glasses and one guy, quite pissed already slurred "Blimey, you're bloody gorgeous, bet you're married!"

Single mum piped up: "Yeah, I am, to the Mafia!"

Which is a tip I might keep in mind!

I will probably not talk about my job, however colourful it may end up being. Bonds of trust 'n' all, ya know.

I'm off to the CAB now, find out just how these shifts effect my benefits and what it would mean to take on more.

I will report on that.....

Ah well!

Ken Clarke on Question Time tonight?

I've seen Question Time advertised this week because it's taking place at Wormwood's Scrubs, a notorious prison and Dimbleby has said that the Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke will be on the panel.

Oh yes please!

I heard yesterday that rape is not always rape in Mr Clarke's eyes, he believes a distinction can be made between "serious" "forcible" "proper" and "date" rape and sentencing should reflect that. Indeed be written into legislation that men who plead guilty get lesser sentences.

You know how I feel about rape. So few cases even make it to court and the ones that do so often end in the acquittal of the attacker. Only 6% of reported rapes result in a conviction. It's disgusting.

Meanwhile, over in New York, the French International Monetary Fund boss has been refused bail for an 'alleged sexual assault" on a maid at a hotel where he was staying.

Other woman have since come out to say he attacked them and it looks like the contender for the French presidency may go down for his crime and serve a lengthy prison sentence.

I certainly hope so.

In these days of super injunctions, powerful people seem to think they can get away with just about anything. I'm relieved in the IMF case, the victim is being protected.

Clarke will know about this case. I wonder, in light of what everything he's been saying about rape, what are his views on this should anyone in the audience ask, which I hope they do.

"It's starting to stop" says son

My son's teacher pulled him aside before lunch yesterday to say that Ugly's kid had denied strangling him. Like mother like son ey, only he's eight and it's almost to be expected.

With irrefutable evidence, the pint sized bully (I will say bully even though I've told my son to take the word out of his own vocabulary so he feels less of a victim...) admitted to doing it 'once'.

My son, by his account, told the teacher that recently it was more like 'unfriendly hugs' and that it was "starting to stop".

"Unfriendly hugs? Unfriendly hugs?" I said to my son later. "Why are you protecting him?"

"Because he's my friend mamma," my boy replied.

The teacher told my son he was "being very grown up about it."

Yes, yes he is, more grown up than I ever have the courage to be.

The teacher told my son to come and tell her if it happens again. That he must come and tell her.
All power to my son, you know.

Really, not because he is mine but because now and then it's been extraordinarily difficult for him. He doesn't see a couple of his best friends outside school, although they see one another, so it's been easy for them to single him out which I know has been really hurtful to him in the past.

It's flared up again with the post parent snitching park bollocks of recent times.

Historically, the school has actually been brilliant about these tensions and my son's cheeky good humour helps him along alot.

He was amazing up on that stage yesterday reading out the "Invisible Clown" story he wrote. So nervous bless him, that he read it really quickly, but he was brilliant and got a richly deserved round of applause afterwards!

On Saturday he's doing his "White 2" Kung Fu grading.

I wish all our children well. It's not easy. Mind you, I'm not suggesting it ever was.

Afterall, quite honestly, how many of us would go back?

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

I'm not meant to 'fit in'

You did not come to this planet so that you could 'fit in' with what was already happening on it. You were not born to conform. You came here to ask awkward questions, to provoke thought, to explore alternatives and to play a part in a process of positive change.

Sometimes a person simply needs to be told, ey Cainer?

Cigarette moment haiku

Cigarette moments
come after you quit your drug
but still need to breathe

Must say, it is safe
and incredibly pleasant
I just close my eyes

I don't miss smoking
I remember it fondly
but never for long

Tackling child bullies

Oh it's tough this one... Fine lines, fine lines

"Tell him to stop, you don't like it," I told my son. The lad didn't stop, so yesterday afternoon I made an appointment with his teacher.

"I'm surprised," she said. "He comes across as such as mild-mannered gentle boy."

I could only nod in the affirmative, he does. Though I've seen him pile onto his friends, though I didn't mention that, so many young boys do that. Fine lines...fine lines....

She asked me if I got on with the boy's mother and I said "NO, no no no! I don't trust her. She denied she had a meeting with you for goodness sake. No."

Did I think my son might be exaggerating, because he knows I don't like Ugly, so wants to make something up.

I paused. Would you believe I paused. It's those fine lines... you've got to be able to walk it. I believe it to be one the greatest challenges of parenting but then my child is 8 and I feel I'm only at the beginning.

So I told the teacher about the day in the park, how I failed my son when he came over to me crying and how Ugly only reprimanded my child, not her own.. "So maybe he thinks he can get away with it."

I mentioned what happened in Reception, but with hindsight, it was my opportunity to tell the teacher what MY SON HAD ACHIEVED with his pals then, which then went wrong when I shared that with Ugly. I didn't take that opportunity.. so long ago you know... and the crap with the parents isn't over at all; not my concern but the children feel it....

"I told my son long ago," I said to the teacher, "that no matter how awful, no matter how bad he's been, he has always got to tell me the truth. If he doesn't tell me the truth, how can I defend him? He knows that, he learnt that in Reception when that woman called him a liar."

I have to admit to you reader, that I did tell teacher I wasn't looking forward to talking to her because she'd allegedly said I blow things out of proportion. I made no accusation and it was an opportunity for her to discover, if she didn't already know, that my son is a "Child in Need" on the social services books (for fucks sake).

She's going to talk to the boy, gently, about his friendship with my son
She's going to have both boys closely monitored in the playground (she told me when she's been on duty the two don't play together....I could only say I don't know because I don't know)
My child has free reign to tell whoever is on duty that Ugly's son has strangled him or grabbed him round the neck.

I can't ask for more really. I do wish my child had been accorded the same treatment when Ugly told the story of the one off pulling chair away incident which led my boy to spending a whole day in detention. On a par, I think repeatedly strangling a child is worse but it would be wrong for the boy to get punished just on my hearsay.

We rounded off the meeting with his teacher telling me how well my boy is doing. He writes incredible stories and he's reading one of them out today at his class assembly, on the stage, on his own (I'm so proud, so so proud of him!)

I dropped my son off at Kung Fu then went for a walk afterwards. Sat by the pond at the Heath. Watched the swans, noticed the magpies, tried to let go.

This morning my son I remind my son they're going to be monitored and to tell a member of staff if it happens again and my son says:

"It hasn't happened for ages mummy."
"WHAT?" I feel my heckles rise. "You tell me to go talk to your teacher and it's not 'happened for ages???????"
"The last time was Monday mummy and I told him to stop and he hasn't done it since."
My brain shifted and fell back into gear.
"It's Wednesday morning son. That means he didn't hurt you yesterday. Still, if he has stopped at least you know you can deal with these things yourself, do you hear me? You can do it! In the meantime, it's good I've said something, so we'll just have to see, ok..."

We'll have to see
We'll have to see
Walking fine lines
It helps if you can see

Very best of luck to any parent going through something similar with their child. I do not wish any such thing upon you or your children, ever.

At some point I may write what my son achieved in Reception, but not today if that's ok.
I have not enjoyed writing this post and must now go outside and have a cigarette moment!

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

How we hide from people

Bumped into my son's friend G's dad in the coffee shop.

"How are you?" he says, because it's been a while.
"Good! You?"

He tells me he's got jet lag from a work trip, his wife's gone off on a mini break with a girlfriend for three days so he's left looking after the two boys. I don't need to tell you about this family but a challenge is what I will say.

"How about you, what are you up to?" he asks

Oh, I've got a meeting with our sons' teacher this afternoon because Ugly's boy's been strangling mine and to tell the truth, I'm not looking forward to it one little bit because I didn't tell you did I...

No, I didn't say that. Told him about the voluntary work, pub work, oh and asked him if he'd seen the Street programme last night and he had, from the corner of his eye while tidying up after the boys had gone to bed. I didn't tell him what was really on my mind at all.

We hide from what we think sometimes don't we

I don't really hide on here because it is my hiding place.

So it's already a bit wierd I've joined Twitter!

That doesn't feel like a hiding place (bizarrely, given its millions of users)

Will it affect what I write on here?

What do I say on there?

It's like two worlds coming together

And I converge onto them

Still hiding

because I don't exist

but not hiding at the same time, because I do

How funny/wierd/strange/great/mad

I'll let you know how I get on



Here and there?

Time for lunch methinks!

Redundancies but not my housing officer, phew...

My housing officer called me back and said I am not in arrears (whoppee), it's the new housing association which has sent the notice out and I can ignore it (do these organisations realise just how many times they make our hearts stop in panic?)

The lowest my 'arrears' can be is one week, for that is how the housing association processes the benefits that come from the council. I will always be £346 in arrears, never £0, never ever as long as I am never ever in truly affordable housing or earning a squillion pounds a week for my flexible part time job. Ok, a million will do, a couple of thousand....?

I just don't need statements, with my name on it, saying I'm £1380 in arrears, when I'm not.

Housing officer said if my arrears is over one week, then the trouble begins; true arrears that could get my son and I evicted. Easily done unfortunately on a minimum wage.

So what's happened to my housing association? Well it has been amalgamated, along with some others apparently, into this larger housing association. Whoppee for them ey?

There were redundancies, not so whoppee, but housing officer has avoided it, a relief, he's a nice guy.

Housing support worker hasn't got back to me....

Now that's more worrying if he's gone, linked as he is to my other landlord; the council.

Well, more worrying if you are me, like me, or worse off than me

And worrying for him if he can't get another job and pay his rent

Not worrying at all though, it would seem, if you are a government minister


The Street where they cut everything

BBC I aired a documentary last night about what happened to a street in Preston, in northern England where all council services are cut for six weeks.

It was good; a fly on the wall type thing where residents are given a sum of money and have to decide where to spend it now that all council services have gone. No-one to collect the rubbish, no street lights, no-one to clean graffiti. All pretty simple until that sum of money is "cut". Who gets the help? The pensioner, the single mother or the disabled parent of a resident who lives in another village? Different people, different needs. We know that don't we? (I hope)

It made uncomfortable viewing because it got nasty. Of course it did. Programmes like this like to show neighbours pitted against one another, neighbours at war; it makes good telly.

Unsurprisingly the street didn't have a resident billionaire. It didn't have a resident millionaire for that matter. No, they live five miles away in gated communities. They don't feel the effects of cuts, they just read it in the news, if the news reports it that is. Muggings are so commonplace they don't make it on any page these days, even if the victim's dead.

What I want to know though, is did Dave watch it?

Did Dave watch this programme about the consequences of his Party's ideological cuts?

Dave, the architect of the Big Society. You can still catch it on iplayer Dave because it's not really me who needs to know all this.

It's you.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Why can't I defend my child?

I have to write 'why can't I defend my child?' because I can, of course I can, it's just not easy.

My son is being strangled by a boy at school.

He has asked this boy to stop, several times my son tells me, but the boy doesn't and my son is getting increasingly upset. Didn't want to go to school this morning, I said it would be fine. Well, you do don't you....

A playground teacher saw the boy strangling my son, asked him why he was doing it and was told that my son had pushed him. So my son got told off. My son didn't tell the teacher it was in retaliation, my son told me. Why isn't my son defending himself? I asked him that, he had no answer.

I told my son to talk to his own teacher. He's too afraid. He's asked me to do it.

Easy you might think, and believe me, I do admonish myself with the time it's taking me but fuck, fuck fuck fuck.

The boy in question is Ugly's son.

Ugly who told tales on my boy and got him a day's detention.

The strangling has been going on since the incident in the park just before Easter.
Ugly's son witnessed his mother telling off my boy and getting clean away with the pain he was inflicting on my son (I alluded to this in a post, I failed to step up for my son when that happened that day)

I cannot talk to Ugly so rule that out straight away

It has been difficult for me to approach the teacher for three reasons.

1. The boys are friends..part of a bigger group of another three boys.

2. I made a right rumpus about my son getting a day's detention on a parent's hearsay so it's fair to say I'm not parent of the month. I told her that Ugly had denied the accusations she'd made at the parents evening and teacher said "I understand, history, I understand". Will she brush this off?

3. My son is always getting told off by his teacher and I don't want to make things worse for the little lad.(A recent incident was after the holidays when the teacher told the children that R's mother had cancer and my son said "I got a new duck" and the teacher said "Get out of the classroom!" which I thought was a bit harsh, all things considered....)

You know, fuck it, I should just make an appointment with her. I know these boys rough play all the time and I have grilled my son sufficiently on that these past two weeks to make sure the strangling is really separate from all that.

I wasn't going to blog about this but my monday has started off so badly that I may aswell pour all my shit out. Because it is shit.

Shit shit shit.

Still, ironically I have a meeting this afternoon, I'm on the Committee for Safeguarding Children.

Oh ha ha ha. oh ha ha ha ha ha ha.

I can safeguard mine.


New Landlord, Fresh rent arrears accusation

I didn't tell you.. Well, my housing officer didn't tell me did he?

My landlord has changed.

I got the letter last week, a few days after my housing officer's visit. I ahall text him in a minute, ask him if he is still my housing officer


This morning I have recieved a letter from my new landlord, still a housing association but a different one, saying that I am £1380.00 in arrears.

I was at the housing benefit office just last week. They have been paying my rent since I moved in. How could I possibly be in arrears? I have not declared my job yet (though the pay is so low it's probably not going to effect anything)

I think these organisations just like to upset you. It should know I'm in full receipt.

I've an appointment at the Citizen's Advice Bureau on Thursday - about how many hours I can take without being worse off financially (oh ha ha, like we can be millionaires down here when we earn the minimum wage!)

I shall contact the housing officer
I shall contact my housing support worker
I might also text Hannah, she in same boat as me, well, same raft, our homes aren't sturdy enough to be called a boat, find out if the same has happened to her family.

Happy Monday's ey? Tsk, if only today was good music...

Plans put in place at parties

I met a human rights lawyer at the weekend, at my friend's Eurovision song contest party.

Azerbaijan sang victorious. Azarbaijan???? Well, Blue didn't stand a chance really and nor did Jedward when you consider all these countries vote for their neighbours.

So, a human rights lawyer was there. I told her I'd given up with lawyers, but I was going to go to my MP, one last time on housing issues, to ask him for "the statutory instrument" I need to change an anomoly in the housing allocation policy.

Human rights lawyer told I might have a case for discrimination. Her own organisation couldn't help because they deal more with discrimination issues based on race or mental health.

But, she said, Liberty might take it. Contact them, she urged me.

I will. Not today but I will.

My housing plans are the reasons I want to stop blogging.
My housing plans were the reason I started in the first place.
Will I get a council flat? I asked two years ago.
No, was the answer I gave you.

That was a blow, if I'm honest.

I've come back though.
Did she ever get the £283m, a reader might ask.
Did she ever manage to change the policy on allocating homeless people? a reader might ask.
You know, I might succeed with these things. Follow me on this journey to success so I may show you that hanging on to hope brings its rewards...

Geez, I took you on my dentist journey believing I'd be telling you teeth can be saved and don't be frightened.
That was another blow, if I'm honest.

It's all so bloody negative. This life, our lives, some of us...

I quit smoking. After 25 years I quit smoking.

It's here, on blogspot, my one success out of all the challenges I set myself.

That's no blow. If I can do it so can you.

I want to quit blogspot on a hopeful note

Is that so hard?

Why is that so hard?

Do I surrender? Admit defeat?

I don't want a cigarette but at least I can have a cigarette moment

Plans put in place at parties...

Breathe in, exhale

Saturday, 14 May 2011

I have joined Twitter!

At last you might say!!

On the recommendation of fellow blogger Frankie P, Stiggers has joined the realm of Twitter!

I've been thinking about it for a long time then wondering if I should do it if I am indeed planning to stop blogging! Maybe I'm doing it because I'm planning to stop blogging. Who knows. I love blogging. I don't want to stop. I just think perhaps I should.

Yes, so while the world perhaps tires of twitter (I heard that somewhere), I have finally joined!!

Problem of course, is that I am Stigger's conduit and I am a luddite. She can't get up and running until I sort her out.

Second problem is that I can't invite any of my friends because all of my friends know I'm a stigmum but none of my friends know I am Stigmum. None of my friends know I write a blog. Hmmmm

Third problem, which isn't a problem I guess, is that I've a crappy phone, not a snazzy blackberry or anything jazzy like that.

Still, I've arrived! As soon as I figure out badges and widgets or whatever and the like, I'll put it on here!

I'd like to say thank you to Frankie P for the spur. Friday 13th not so unlucky, blogspot going down yesterday not so unlucky either, for I met her over at the Brit Mums forum having a soap box rant (which you know I love!)

Also Friday 13th Luck - I made no plans this weekend, none. Was all looking a bit lonesome but I wasn't thinking about that because I might feel blue.

Then, out of the blue, my old work colleague I've not seen since my birthday party last year, texts and invites me to a Eurovision Song Contest party he and his wife are having tonight!!!

Go Blue!

Do Blue, the band Blue, the band Blue representing the UK have a chance?! Will they sweep the boards?!

I'd join the Eurovision tweeting but I don't know how, I'd tweet but I don't have a phone that can take the application, I'd tweet but I'll be busy having fun. Oh hurrah!

Anyway, best go! I'm @stigmum (I think that's what you say isn't it?)

See, luddite! Maybe see you on there!

Have a good weekend x

(oh and this is my 101th post under the label 'blog'!!- room 101? This post belongs in a different label? Stiggers isn't going into room 101, not if I don't want her to!)

Friday, 13 May 2011

Friday 13th - Lucky for some?

Was panicking abit this morning. I was thinking of posting my correspondence with politicians here on blogspot and was having difficulty breathing.
Should I do it today? Friday 13th
Unlucky say some
Lucky for some say others...
Should I do it at all?
Kiss of death when I put my plans on here
Will they work? I wonder
Then like you, I find out, they don't.
They might this time though...
Then blogspot is unavailable all day...
Is this a sign?!
Is this a sign I must not post my correspondence?!
Too late
I don't know if doing so will be lucky
or unlucky
All I do know, is while I've been researching online for how many papers wrote up the story of the Tories charging children to enter playgrounds (1)
I read about a British woman who was decapitated by a crazed man who ran into a shop in Tenerife

It was shocking to read lots of things (revenge attacks for bin Laden killing 80 in Pakistan - "first of many" say Taliban) but it was, it still is...
My thoughts go out to this woman and her family
And you too, that you might be safe

(Yikes, should I change my post title?)

The lengths I go for you Britain...

11 May 2011

Dear Nick Clegg, (Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Deputy Prime Minister of the Coalition)

So you took a trouncing in the local elections last week. To tell the truth, I didn’t care. Why should I? You and your party didn’t help me and my son.

We were evicted from our temporary accommodation and placed into further temporary accommodation; a two year lease with a £350 weekly rent. My job pays £6 an hour and I’ve just received a £600 quarterly electricity bill. It’s not your life but it is many people’s lives which is why I write to you one last time.

As you know there are five million people currently on the waiting list for a council flat, my family included. This means that come the next general election, there will be five million, if not more, votes up for grabs. I have pointed this out to Ed Miliband, and now I am pointing it out to you.

As I mentioned in the letter I wrote to you a year ago, (enclosed), you were the only politician to mention the need for council flats in the television debates.

Perhaps you are relieved the media ignores this as your Tory partner demolishes what’s left of state housing and subjects millions of people to high rents and recurring evictions so detrimental to health and children’s education and life chances. You mentioned health and education to Andrew Marr but no-one, not even you, mentioned housing, which is so married to these issues. Why not?

I have approached ministers about housing since 2004. A report on the Localism Bill due to land in the House of Commons soon will have devastating outcomes for generations to come if it’s passed.

As your party lies battered following broken promises, I believe you have an opportunity to help our country and gain some votes as you do so. I don’t know why I should want to help you Mr Clegg. Perhaps it’s because I did meet you and I want positive consequences to come from that.

I’m sending you a copy of the postcard I sent the coalition last July asking for withheld funds to be returned to the borough of Camden. I asked Frank Dobson to approach the coalition on my behalf. I asked Ed Miliband to use it to kick-start an opposition to Tory plans and I asked Boris Johnson to meet me, to advise me on how best to approach coalition decision makers myself.

Not one of these politicians has been prepared to help me help the borough they themselves live in. My borough may not be your concern but our country is. People are dying. You can stem the flow.
According to the UK Rich List, the number of billionaires in the country has gone up from 53 to 73. I don’t want to hear there is no money.

I look forward to hearing something. I enclose two articles I wrote that you might want to read.
I want this housing catastrophe to end and I still believe you and your party can begin to end it.

Yours sincerely,

Sue de Nim

The lengths I go for you Camden....

February 2011

Dear Boris Johnson,

I cycled to your offices last autumn hoping to catch you but we didn't see one another. It was suggested by staff at reception that I email you.
It's taken me up until now because I was being evicted from my home at the time; I feel more settled now!
I want to ask your help regarding a serious housing issue (I know, terribly boring). I just you need you to hear me out which should take less than five minutes! Five minutes Mr Johnson. I know you care deeply about housing (despite it being terribly boring), and I know you will be interested in what I have to say and what I have to show you.
I can cycle to your offices again, if that's easiest for you. Buy you a coffee in the cafe downstairs.
Otherwise, have bike, will travel!
I can meet you anywhere!
Five minutes Mr Johnson, I promise.
Win win win win win win win!!
I look forward to hearing from you.
Yours sincerely,
Sue de Nim

March 2011

Dear Sue
Thank you for your email to the Mayor, to which I have been asked to respond.
I am sorry to learn about your difficult housing situation. The Mayor's role in housing is a strategic one. That is, he is responsible for producing the London Housing Strategy and setting the overall aims for the investment to deliver the strategy. As such, it is not appropriate for him to intervene in individual cases.
You may find it useful to seek the advice and assistance of an independent agency, such as the Citizens Advice Bureau.
Thank you for writing to the Mayor and I hope that your housing situation is resolved quickly. > Yours sincerely
Public Liaison Officer

March 2011 (so chuffed to get a response!)

Hi Public Liaison Officer,
Thanks for getting back to me. For once it is not an individual case that I wish to see the Mayor about; it is on behalf ofthe borough in which he lives.
Five minutes is all I ask, all I want, actually all I need.
You can sit in aswell if you like, I'll be coming by myself unless it's an inset day at my son's primary, in which case he'll come along too.
Let me know, it would mean such a great deal, to everyone I think!
Kind regards
Sue de Nim

23 March
Dear Sue

Thank you for your further email to the Greater London Authority. In order to assist you further please could you provide full details of the matter you would like to discuss with the Mayor.
Yours sincerely
Development & Environment

Dear Development and Environment,
Thanks for getting back to me. I'd like to talk to the Mayor about a postcard I sent the coalition asking for money for the borough. This is why it will only take five minutes of his time.

On my postcard, addressed to the coalition,I put my address as C/O Frank Dobson, David and Ed Miliband, and Coalition members who live in the borough. The Mayor is a coalition member. I must ask his help.

I have asked Frank Dobson to read out my postcard in the House of Commons
I have asked the same of Ed Miliband
The mayor could ask David Cameron or Nick Clegg to meet me so I can ask them directly for the money.
Alternatively he could advise me on what I could do with my postcard (I have a copy, postcards by their very nature can get lost - I'm happy to show it to him)

It has not escaped my notice I have received your email on Budget Day! There is so much money, so much, I do not believe otherwise or I would not approach Mr Johnson. The Mayor is a Camden resident. He has nothing to lose by meeting me or helping me.

A beautiful irony of what I am trying to do for the borough, is that if or rather when I get the money for it, I will not see a penny of it. OK, there's nothing beautiful about that irony but there's also nothing beautiful about any of the cuts to housing. The Mayor and I could get the money together! (The editor of the Ham & High, told me if the money comes back, the story will get the front page. Imagine! )

All the time it takes to drink a cup of tea, that's all I am asking! I hope that's the information you were asking for. It's all the information there is!
Kind regards
Sue de Nim

April 2011

Dear Ms de Nim
Thank you for your emails to the Mayor, to which I have been asked to respond.
The Mayor's role in housing is a strategic one. That is, he is responsible for producing the London Housing Strategy and setting the overall aims for the investment to deliver the strategy. As such, it is not appropriate for him to intervene in campaigns related to specific boroughs. However, the Mayor has been making the case to the government about London's need for funding in areas such as housing and transport.
The Mayor is very grateful for your invitation to meet and it is with regret that he must decline on this occasion, as his diary is full with long-standing engagements.
With best wishes for your campaign.
Yours sincerely
Policy Officer
Housing Unit

One-half of knowing what you want is knowing what you must give up before you get it~ Sidney Howard
Never, never, never, never give up.~ Winston Churchill
Some of the world's greatest feats were accomplished by people not smart enough to know they were impossible. ~Doug Larson

Pay to play children!

It's started. In Wandsworth.

The Tory council are charging children £2.50 each to use the playground in Battersea Park.
News was on the front page of The Mirror this morning and a woman in the aisle at the supermarket was enraged. "Why, why?" she ranted in her Eastern European accent.

"Government cuts they're probably saying," I replied. Oh yes, Government cuts they are saying, this borough with the lowest council tax in the capital and councillors who are "some of the highest paid in the country...higher than the PM's salary." (page 5)

Hampstead Heath has an adventure playground. You have to be eight or over to go into it, although younger children do use it. My son plays in there all the time. Lots of children do.

The heath also has another playground, with swings and sandpits and so on and my son occasionally plays in that too. Lots and lots of children do.

What message are the Wandsworth Tories setting out here? That playgrounds are only for the privileged? That obesity is not a problem in our society? If children can't afford to play in the parks they should play....on the streets?

I scanned all the right wing papers to see if they too had covered the story - out of interest - the Sun is the country's biggest selling newspaper....

I've gone to all the online newspapers (and phew, we've still got a cross party selection that is available free) and the only place I found the story was

Yes, you might have guessed, and thank goodness:

I don't know who you vote for, but would you vote for this?

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

A change in circumstances

I start my new job tomorrow.
Pulling pints in London's Last Local
or maybe not last local
but they are dying aren't they
replaced by Gastro Pubs

In the interview new boss mentioned holidays
Holidays! Of course! Didn't think of those!
Bar work isn't a term time job is it?!
On days I work my boy can sit in the pub
she says
Her daughter will be around so they can play together.

She's nice my new boss
Giving me this opportunity.
Opportunity for what?
I'm not sure I know
but I know it's an opportunity.

"Find out if you'll be better off,"
someone said. "And if you're not
don't take it until September when..."
"I'm forced to take what leaves me worse off?"

A change in circumstances
You always hope it'll be a change for the better
don't you?

Paper clips and envelopes

It's a 'coalition' paper clip that binds together the papers I sent Clegg today. Not a Yellow and Blue one that you might imagine I'd use on this, the Coalition's First Birthday. No, it's a Red and Yellow one.

(Coincidence that! That I send the letter on the coalition's first anniversary. I had no idea Monday when I dated the letter I had not written yet!)

The envelope is large A4 sized brown 'Do Not Bend' envelope to keep everything straight and in order. Two letters, two articles, one postcard (all copies bar one of the letters)

"Do you think he'll read it?" asked Mistress Ha Ha as we met outside a local primary school to give out Boot Camp flyers.
"I don't know. He might. It's very political."
"Are you trying to blackmail him?"
"No! I don't know what I'm doing but I know I'm doing something!"

I got a massive head ache after I posted my package with its coalition paperclip inside so I had to lie down.

Do you think they'll have a party tonight? Dave and Nick? Or do you think only one them will?

Do you even care?

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Private Rental Scourge

Private Rental Scheme
Private Rental Scam
Private Rental Scourge

Oh many things these past two years I have called the Private Sector and the Government/Council policies to place homeless families there because there's not enough social housing and the alternative is hostel accommodation... well everyone knows that's not suitable apart from the System which says it is. Oh and ignorant people in our society - the sort to comment negatively on articles that I write...

I went to the Housing Benefit office to tell them of my rent increase.
I'd gone to the Citizen's Advice Bureau in order for them to do a 'better off calculation' of my new wage and the woman there told me to clarify my rent as priority.

Housing benefits came into effect on April 1st
There is a discretionary sum of money that has been given to councils (a lib dem contribution to the Tory plan the woman told me) that allows the individual a nine month transitional period before they have to pay the whole shortfall of rent.
How they allocate that money is up to them, the council.

Housing benefit told me that these new rules only apply to private tenants.
Housing Associations operate differently. They have a rent officer who sets the rent and that is accepted as suitable and relevant by the housing benefit office (that must be new as some will no doubt chase the 80% market share they've newly been allowed to set...)

I am very very lucky (kind of) but I have told you this before.
Homeless families who are on the Private Rental Scheme, what is going to happen to them? Will they be allocated a discretionary sum? What happens when that stops?

On the points system, they, not me, get awarded extra points for insecurity should they be evicted but it's my guess an awful lot of them are going to be losing their homes and it is my knowledge that there aren't the council properties/housing association properties to go round.

Housing benefit man actually suggested that I rent somewhere in the private sector and I might be more secure than in my three lease temporary housing association flat.

"Where oh where, could I find somewhere to live near my son's school?" I asked, almost rhetorically. "I won't be able to. The private sector cap is too low."

He shrugged, palms outwards then gently said I could go, there were other people to see; "We're very busy at the moment."

I mustn't think about the future.
My son and I are safe right now
I hope my son and I are safe
I put tomorrow's date on Clegg's letter
I'll send it signed for delivery
at some point during the day
(I'm scared he won't act on it
more than I'm scared of being used as a political pawn
things are that bad, in my view)

Where would we be, without the CAB?

Where would we be without the CAB
Drowning I imagine in that big black sea

Where can we be with the CAB
Support, advice, and tips to clear a way to see

She told me to come back next week for an appointment, clarify my housing benefit as soon as possible and to hold off telling housing benefit, just for a week, that my circumstances are changing.

There weren't as many people as usual at the Citizen's Advice Bureau; it's the woman next to me who pointed it out. She remembers it as I do when it was packed and you'd have nowhere to sit.

Odd really, given people are really beginning to suffer right now. The woman next to me said they'd extended their opening hours. I forgot to ask CAB woman as she helped me with my impending work questions but I might mention it next week if I remember....

We need the CAB (I'm chanting)
A safety buoy when we're cast at sea
We need the CAB
Cut the funding you kill me
and a whole load of other people I imagine

(Stiggers is telling me to stop imagining that...)

Monday, 9 May 2011

Circle of Single Mums - Vote for us!!

Vote for me!
Vote for me!
I just want to know really, how many people pass through this blog and it might be a good indicator!!
Oh go on
Just until May 23rd if you remember to vote for me everyday that would be super cool!
I'm not in it to win it (need to provide a photo and I don't have one), I'm in it to experience it!

If you are a single mum blogger yourself, while you are there, you can add your blog and if you do, let me know and I'll vote for you!

Circle of Single Mums - Vote for Us!!!

UK has 20 new Billionaires!

According to the UK Rich List 2011, the number of UK billionaires has risen from 53 to 73!

My goodness, you'd never know the country was in crisis would you, with care centres, play centres, libraries, disabled people's mobility allowances oh my god the list is endless, funding for all these things being slashed, in order to pay off a debt because there's no money.

No money.

My arse.

If the Duke of Westminster, for example, was to share the spoils of his £7bn fortune and give every UK adult a million pounds sterling, he'd still have so much left to spread around some Local Authorities.

Indeed, if the top ten were to put their hands in their pockets, we might not have a debt "crisis" at all.....

If Philip Green, the "efficiency tzar".... oh what's the point....

Different worlds, different... but had a dream where I was told to write to Clegg one last time, so I've spent the morning doing that.

Well, for what it's worth, I don't know but I'm still Leader of the I Don't Know Party so it's worth a punt.

Football? My new Religion?

Unbeknownst to you, I have been pondering a rather big dilemma since January, every week getting more and more intense.

On Sundays when my son is with me, do I take him to a Football Drop-In on the Heath at 10am or do I continue to take him to Church at 10am?

Honestly, I know what he'd pick and I can see reason for footie, he absolutely loves it. I can see value in Church, even though it's only the wine he loves (reason to stop taking him really...) but but but it's still been a major dilemma.

Then yesterday, oh the barny before we left the house for God's.
"I don't want to go," he moaned.
"Well, you have to," I replied.
"Why?" petulantly
"To say thank you for all you have."
"I can say thank you here!"
"Yes, well, there there are stories and songs and it's quiet and you can have a little think about the people you love and the things you want and ask God for them, there, in His House."
"I still don't see why we have to go..." Honestly, he reminded me of me, only when I had those rows with my parents I was a teenager, not an eight year old.

I could have ended the dilemma there and then and taken him to football, but aagh, what is the value of going to Church? Let me find out, my dilemma could live another week.

Then at church, the priest announced that following a consultation with parishioners (of which I wasn't included because I didn't know about it because my attendence is so slack), church service times had changed.

To replace the 8am, 10am and 12pm services on Sunday, there was to be a 9am service and an 11 am family service. Were we all in accord?

"Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest," I heard a man say and looked across the pews and there he was sprawled out rolling himself a fag. I thought this was quite funny. My son carried on staring at him and said he put the fag behind his ear. "For after," I whispered.

Anyway Sunday is a day of rest and like the priest said, it can be pleasant to join with the community on such days (or join for whatever reason you want on such days). My son was also in a good mood when we came out, you'd never have guessed our discord an hour before!

So, my dilemma's sorted then. Thank God ey?!

I can take my son to Football Drop In and I can take him to Church!

It means we can't go to the 11am family service though. I can't see my son being happy to quit a footie lesson 15 minutes early somehow.

So, if I want to combine both, we'll have to go to the 9am service.

A new dilemma presents itself. It is a weekend and Sunday, like the man said, is a day of rest.

So, do I set my alarm clock?

(I said I wouldn't label under football as I know nothing about it and it's true, the match my son went to see was Arsenal against Wigan, not Sunderland as I stated...Oh and Arsenal won! 3-0!)

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Blogging; learn as you go along!

Rarely do I blog in the evening but tonight is special. Tis special because I went over to notSupermum's for a read and discovered this Circle of Moms thing she's asked all her readers to vote for her on, so off I went to vote for her and on the page it said

Add Your Blog


Shall I?


Why not!

I bookmarked a page with loads of single mother bloglinks on thinking I can go back and read and maybe comment and goodness, who knows then thought ooh, shall I put the "Vote for me" link on my front page??!

Now, it might be 2015 as you're reading this, you've pressed on my link out of curiosity to check my popularity and it still says '0'.

Hey, I don't mind, that's fine, that really is. I've been blogging two and a half years now (2011 if you didn't check the date as you read this post..easily done, skipping such things)

I don't mind because I put that badge on because I forgot how to put badges on! I remembered that way back when, Susanna at Mummy Bloggers told me how to do it so I went back there, and read that advice - go to html/edit copy embed content and hit save -

Do I delete what's there first?
I deleted what was there
Oh, British Mummy Blogger's badge has gone, replaced by Vote For Me.

Go back, repaste British Mummy Bloggers Badge, do not delete Circle of Mom's badge and....

It's AWESOME learning things on blogspot, it doesn't matter how late!!

Before I leave blogland forever, I want to find that mental health badge I've seen here and there because that's what this blog is about really isn't it?

Housing and mental health (joyous!)

Just I write about other things too to stop me going too crazy
in real life
because you can't really tell in blogland
Or maybe you can

I dunno, but I do know that you learn as you go along and if you are reading this and it is 2015 or 2020 or 3010 and I still exist, or this page does even if I don't, well hell bells, vote for me, vote for stiggers, vote for technology, vote for a blog with hardly any bells and whistles in this a technological era where incredible whistles and bells exist!

You still get luddites like me in 2011!
Incredible huh?

(Apparently voting ends on May 23rd and you can vote once every 24 hours until then so mentions of 2015 and 3010, well, it might mean something mightn't it?!)

Friday, 6 May 2011

I am one of the lucky ones....

My rent has gone up says my housing officer because the original rent was 'probably below the housing cap so it's been increased.'

That can only make sense to me if I am the one making the profit from it. I am not the one making a profit from it so it makes no sense to me.

However, I am one of the lucky ones.

If I were privately renting the housing allowance would be much lower than it is in temporary social housing I'm told.

Temporary social landlords, like mine, have been increasing the rents of those who fall below the housing cap and trying to reduce the rent of those above it. They are asking property owners to reduce the rents and in cases where the property owners won't, the individual, or family, is being evicted.

Apparently, in recent months, my housing association has lost lots of properties because owners won't reduce the rent.
Lots of families are being evicted.
I'm not because my £350 falls under the cap.

My housing officer asked if my circumstances had changed.
I told him my electricity bill was now sky high
I told him I'd been offered a job (I took it!)

I felt so dizzy, I felt so sick, I had to sit down.

He told me to let him know how things pan out because yes, the last flipping thing my family needs is to fall into arrears. He said he'd try and support us as much as he could. Nice guy nice guy but still I'm finding it hard to breathe

Sometimes I get the same feelings of dizziness and feeling sick when I come to you to blog about all this

I used to have Nico Teen, now I have Cake but still it doesn't make the fear of all this go away.

Go away
Go away
Housing strife and trouble
Go away

(and to think I was going to blog about Boris...or about how my son told me yesterday he missed our last place. "What that poky Tower?" I said incredulous. "Yes mummy, it was fun sharing a room with you." Reminded me of that book "The Room" and how all social professionals have told me 'children adapt'. Do they? Do they really? Which children?)

93,000 on Sheffield's housing list

Apparently ( there are 93,000 people on Sheffield's housing waiting list.

Why do I say 'apparently' when I have just read it in the above article?

Because back in 2005 when the Church evicted me and my son, Glenda Jackson told me there was no waiting list in Sheffield, unlike the 15,000 strong one in Camden.

You know what frightens me?

There probably are 93,000 people waiting for affordable accommodation but policy is to be tweaked abit soon whereby great swathes of people will be taken off the list, others won't even make the list because they'll be told they've no chance.

Yet another policy of smoke and mirrors which will hide the true scale of the problem.

Next year, there might only be 1000 people on the waiting list in Sheffield.

Gosh, maybe only 500 will be waiting for affordable accommodation!

Maybe, maybe, a politician will tell me "There's no waiting list in Sheffield."

Maybe someone will tell you there's no-one waiting in Camden too!

Build the houses, renovate the empty ones, abolish the Right To Buy

It might not be wholly effective, it might not be enough, but at least it's a start.

Housing - cheats and victims

A good documentary from Panorama on Wednesday - Council Housing - cheats and victims which gave the nation a clear idea about what a colossal mess housing is in.

Whether it's social housing and the lack of it or private housing and the expense or sub satisfactory repairs of it or those that sublet their council flats and others who will go to all kinds of lengths to buy someone else's tenancy; housing not introduced by Kirsty or Phil is slowly making it into prime time viewing slots.

Given the situation is going to get worse,this is a good thing.

In its hour, Richard Bilton, the narrator, managed to explore the issue of priority. Who gets the council flat? Not the pregnant woman privately renting with her partner but the childless couple living with their parents. Meanwhile the single children living at home aren't getting a look in either.

Amongst all the people interviewed, there wasn't a single mother amongst them.

Why not?

Are single mothers in council flats already? Always the first to be prioritised?

I'm not so you know that assumption to be false (I hope)

Imagine they'd approached me and I'd agreed to be in the story...

Filmed in this luxury flat I might have, probably would have, justified my existence by showing all the letters I wrote to politicians; the articles I wrote, the postcard I sent.

Would I have wept? Would I have wept at the futility of it all?

Probably not; I'd be too busy shitting my pants!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Why do we blog?

I may come back to this. You know why I blog.

It started out as a kind of case study, ended up being a kind of therapy too but what sets it apart from other written mediums is that it is public.

Why do we write things publicly?
What do we hope to achieve?

When I stopped blogging in November and had a notebook instead, what, what propelled me to come back here?

The desire to inform? The desire to teach? The need to scream? All of these things? Statutorily homeless people, particularly perhaps if they are on benefits, are so misunderstood by society.

Does my one, point of view or experience enable people or you to see the wider picture?

I love blogging. I absolutely love it. I love experimenting with writing. I love experimenting with writing in a public field. No comments doesn't mean my stuff isn't accepted, for me it means it is! I'm only practicing and no-one minds!

Well, perhaps I mind a bit as the mess just accumulates around me and my mind is too busy to look for courses to do training or jobs to send in applications on the off chance. This is like a job, the best kind.

I've told you I can't afford my life. You know all this stuff now, what more is there to tell?

Quite alot really but I'm tired of getting nowhere with the challenges I set myself.

Neither you nor me know that I will get nowhere when I start telling you I've done something.

Oh well, that's not just me is it? Lots of people try try and try again.

Why am I still blogging?

Is it nearly time to nip hope in the bud?

It's hard to do that, very hard because hope is always the last thing that's left.

Perhaps I blog so I can tell you this.

The Passing of Time

The passing of time in my life can be defined in two ways.



These two things are coming together for me.

I am soon to pass over to a new decade in my life.

It feels quite massive.

The changes you notice aren't just physical to do with you, but physical also to your environment. In ten years the things that change, the people who come, who go, who are still around.

I recently became aware that this blog has captured the last two and half years of an incredibly difficult decade made beautiful by my child.

Who'd've thought, ten years ago, lying on Clapham Common with some guy I was on a date with who asked me if I was only going out with guys because I was desperate for a baby (yes he so did and I was like 'no way!') that I would be lying on Hampstead Heath ten years later not with just any guy...

I'm excited about turning another 'ty.

Oh fuck yes.. it's a new start, a blank canvas...Me and my son, I start with that.

I'll have no hopes, or dreams or expectations this time, you know why

Nor do I think I'll have a blog with a deep blue background

I've got to leave everything behind, all hopes, the dreams, the expectations and move on

And blogspot/Stiggers, that means you too

You were only ever a case study and all case studies have to end sometime, don't they?

Maybe that's why I'm not sleeping at night...