Pages

Monday, 30 December 2013

A-Z #11

How to Prepare for the Imminent Influx of Bulgarian and Romanian Immigrants

Apply for every single job you see
Bring an extra pair of shoes to the workplace(s)
Change your route to frequented spots. Just to be sure
Download as many episodes of ER as possible. Watch three per day
Engage in petty arguments with friends in order to diffuse anxiety
Fight only for your own rights, no one else's
Get a tank
Hide in unexpected places, such as inside a permalink
Invent a contraption and use it all over the place
Jangle all your jangly things whenever you are outside. Just to be sure
Know yourself. Heal yourself. Be yourself. Hate yourself
Love yourself
Make sure you do all your crying alone
Note down all the noises your body makes. Just to be sure
Observe your nearest and dearest; why are they doing what they're doing?
Pinch people. Just to be sure
Queue like a normal, English person
Rise above everything. Literally
Set an example (see Q)
Try not to be too weird
Uncover any statues, ornaments or figurines that were, until now, covered 
Vaccinate
Wait for a sign
X-ray all your documents. Just to be sure
Yodel. Yes, it sounds RIDIC, but it's extremely preparatory
Zoo

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Top Diary Entries of 2013

January 3rd
Washing
Nails etc
Text Helen about her arm
Think of things to do this year, esp with make believe kit

January 4th
Washing
Nails etc
Text Helen about her arm
Do 'hokey cokey'

January 26th
Text Helen's mum. Send apology flowers? 
Buy: cordial, hundreds and thousands, meat
'Hokey cokey'

February 10th
Visit Helen
Church?
Call Helen

March 22nd
Someone's birthday... 
Make appointment with tarot guy
TAKE TAMPON OUT!!!!!

March 28th
Doctor, 9:20

April 6th
Computer scan
Buy: cream, lotion, moisturiser, serum, key rings x6
Make a start on Helen's room
Labels etc
Get the box out

April 25th
Tarot appointment, 11:30
Ask about bitcoins
Quiet time, pm
Call Helen
Complaint letter to council
hokey cokey

April 26th
Text tarot guy about yesterday?
Get advice

May 20th
LAZY DAY!!!!!
Download ideas:

June 1st
Get Helen's room ready. Call her again?
Sort out cardigans
Clean knees
Quiet time, pm (unless Helen calls back)

June 5th
Google Helen?
Watch ER

June 7th
Go to th
Try and fin
Call Helen's bro
hokey co
Get a car

June 14th
Call police about premonition? (wait until it feels really real??? call different tarot reader about it??)
Buy: cereal, butter, tea, loo roll, staplers
Put box in Helen's room
Petrol

July 7th
Options:

July 29th
Get rid of car

August 4th
Church

August 11th
Church

August 18th
Church

August 19th
Do something about the box

September 13th
Stay in
hc

October 15th
Write to Helen... say it was a joke??
Go for a walk, somewhere with horses?

November 2nd
Jars
hc

November 27th
Helen's birthday

November 28th
Look at flights
Look into selling stuff
Look into working abroad
Look into DNA testing
Look into the future
Hoke

December 12th
Guy coming to pick up box, 3pm
Buy new diary

Thursday, 12 December 2013

A Conversation

Are you drunk?

No, I'm not drunk

You seem like you've been drinking a bit

I haven't had a drink

You smell a little bit like you've had a drink

I haven't. I need help. I need help

...

I'm not drunk

Ok. How can I help?

I'm in a bad situation

How so?

I'm trying to find a job. But it's too hard for me because of my hand

What happened to your hand?

It's injured. I injured it

How did you injure it? What happened?

That's not important

Ok

...

So, what is it you need me to help you with?

I have troubles

Ok. Talk me through what it is you need me to help you with

I have a son. And I need to find a job so that I can see him. So that he can stay with me. His mother doesn't want him to stay with me unless I have a job

And you've been looking?

Yes

And you haven't found anything?

No

Ok

...

Is anyone helping you?

The Job Centre. I have a person at the Job Centre

And what advice have you been given by this person?

Just that I need to keep trying

Ok

...

But the problem is with my hand, really

How so?

I go for trials. I've had lots of trial days at lots of different jobs but they don't ask me back because of things I can't do because of my hand

And what does your adviser at the Job Centre say about that?

That I have to keep trying

...

Do you feel like you're well enough to work?

Yes. I can work

Ok. But what about your hand?

I can do most things. I can work. My hand slows me down at some things but I can work

Ok. And what does your doctor say?

My doctor says I can work. Look: she wrote a letter

...

Ok. So, your doctor says you're fit for work

Yes. My doctor says that. But the people at the jobs think I can't do things because of my hand

Yes

To them, I am ill. To my doctor, I am well. I am ill, I am well, I am ill, I am well

Do you have any other health problems?

No

None?

No

How are you feeling? In general? About stuff in general?

You mean, am I depressed?

Yes. Do you think you might be?

Of course I'm depressed

...

But I want to work. I just want to find work. I want to work hard

And how often do you drink?

I'm not drunk

Ok, I'm just trying to get a picture of how things are for you. How much do you think you drink on an average day or during an average week?

I'm not drunk

Ok

...

...

What can I do? I want to see my son

Well, if you're telling me that you feel like you're fit for work, it seems like your problem is more about you not being able to find the right job than you not being well enough to work. Yes?

Yes

Ok. So, it seems like your adviser at the Job Centre needs to put you forward for things that are better suited to your needs. Have you spoken to each other about that?

I don't know

You should

But there are no jobs for me. What can I do? I go for trials and then nothing. Every time. What can I do?

You need to ask your adviser at the Job Centre to give you more nuanced advice and put you forward for jobs that you have a chance of keeping

But people take one look at me and decide about me straight away. Every time. Every time

...

What can I do?

...

What can I do? Please. What can I do?

I don't know. I don't have an answer. I'm sorry

Thursday, 5 December 2013

One Day at a Time

I just flipped. I can't really remember what I said, but I know it wasn't pretty.

Kate is in her late fifties. She's a cleaner and has been for the past twenty-odd years. She looks worn out, stressed and a pretty wired. Like she hasn't been sleeping or eating very much.

She talks about her job for a little while; how she's been signed off work with stress since she blew up at her line manager; how she's struggling on the £86.70 per week she receives in statutory sick pay but how the thought of going back to work makes her feel like she's going to vomit.

She talks about the problems she's had with her hips; how the new, harsher schedules at work are making it really difficult for her to do her job because of her joint pain.

And then she starts talking about her son.

He's 30. Engaged. Into football and snooker. A good lad. And dying.

He'd had this cough. He'd had it for ages. A couple of years. I kept telling him to go to the doctor. Eventually he did and he was given antibiotics but it didn't go away so he went back to get more. But his cough just got worse. He'd be coughing day and night. He'd have these terrible coughing fits that would last a good three or four minutes. Really violent. So he went back to the doctor again and insisted on a referral to a specialist. And then he got a diagnosis of this fibrosis thing, or ... I can't remember the name exactly... and he didn't tell me about it for ages.

It turns out that Kate's son is a very poorly man.

It turns out that, without a lung transplant, Kate's son won't live much longer.

It turns out that, even if he has a successful transplant, Kate's son probably won't live for more than seven years.

Kate reminisces about her son's engagement party a few months ago.

He came up to me while I was dancing and asked for a Mum hug. And he held on a bit too long, you know? And, I know it sounds silly but I knew that something was wrong straight away. You just know when it's your own kids. And he wouldn't let go of me and he wasn't even that drunk. And he just said, 'Mum, Mum, I'm really scared'. And I just held onto him. My boy.

Kate battles her way through the tears taking little gulps of air. She says that this is the first time she's really talked to anyone about all this.

She talks about her son's partner; how supportive she and her family have been. She talks about getting the coach up to the hospital in Newcastle with her son to see specialists and how lovely the doctors are there.

She talks about trying to be a strong mum for him at the appointments at the hospital. But she says she feels like she's letting him down; that she had to leave the consulting room early last time because she couldn't bear the look of concentration on her son's face when he was trying to take in what the consultant was saying to him. 

She talks about how she hasn't seen her partner since he walked out of the house last night after Kate head-butted the bathroom wall and made a hole in it after an almighty row. She says she doesn't blame him. That they love each other. That she's finding it difficult to control her anger. That she needs to be better at taking things one day at a time. 

So, who knows what will happen with this disciplinary at work. To be honest, I don't really think that's what I came here to talk about.

Kate exhales slowly. She does this a few times. She says it helps her to stop shaking.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Mandatory Reconsideration




Employment & Support Allowance (ESA) is a welfare benefit for people who are not well enough to work. It's had quite a bit of media attention over the last couple of years; it's a relatively new benefit which was brought in when Incapacity Benefit was scrapped and its administration, particularly the way that claimants are assessed at their medical exams, has had - to put it offensively mildly -  some teething problems.

Appeals against ESA decisions have been going through the roof; they more than doubled between the last quarter of 2011/12 and the last quarter of 2012/13. Until very recently, when a person received an adverse decision about their ESA claim, the claimant had an automatic right of appeal for up to one calendar month after the decision was made. The claimant would be required to complete a simple form and briefly state why he or she disagreed with the decision. As soon as the appeal was received by the Department, the appellant would continue to be paid the basic, weekly amount of ESA until the appeal was resolved. The thinking behind this was simple: ESA is for sick people; if someone is appealing an ESA decision, there is a chance that they are sick and vulnerable and that they need money to survive while the appeal is being processed.

Not anymore, apparently.

Since October 2013, claimants' automatic right of appeal against decisions has been taken away. There now exists a process that can only be described as cynical and hostile gate keeping: the Mandatory Reconsideration.

Here's how it works:

Ms H is in receipt of Incapacity Benefit because of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and chronic back and leg pain due to gunshot wounds.

Incapacity Benefit is scrapped and Ms H is invited to make a claim for the new sickness benefit, ESA, which she does. She is paid the basic, weekly amount of ESA while her claim is processed.

Before a final decision is made about her claim, Ms H is required to attend a medical assessment. There is no interpreter present and the medical professional - a physiotherapist in this case - examines her for 17 minutes and seems to focus only on her physical condition.

Ms H receives the decision about her ESA claim in the post. Her claim was not successful. She wants to appeal.

Ms H approaches an advice centre for help. She is advised that, before she is allowed to appeal, she has to ask for a mandatory reconsideration. Most people understand the word, appeal; it's quite an accessible word. But the phrase, mandatory reconsideration is meaningless to Ms H. She's told that this means that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will look at its decision again internally. If the DWP does not change the decision in her favour, Ms H's case will then be forwarded to Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service so that an independent Tribunal can hear the appeal. There is no telling how long the mandatory reconsideration will take.

a phone call is made to the DWP by a caseworker at the advice centre. The caseworker explains that Ms H would like to request a mandatory reconsideration. The DWP says that Ms H needs to give her grounds for such a request. The caseworker says that the grounds are that Ms H feels that the DWP has not taken all her conditions into account. the DWP says that these grounds are not compelling enough. The caseworker says that they are and that actually, at this stage in the process, all that is required is the request for the reconsideration and that further evidence can be provided later. The DWP says that this is not true and that the grounds aren't compelling enough. The caseworker says that it is true and asks again for the request to be accepted. The DWP says no.

The phone call ends.

The caseworker calls the DWP again in the hope that the next person will accept the request for a mandatory reconsideration.

Again, the DWP asks for specific grounds. The caseworker cites the lack of attention paid to Ms H's mental health at her medical assessment and, this time, also suggests specific areas in the law where Ms H might have 'scored' more points. The DWP tells the caseworker that the request for a mandatory reconsideration cannot be accepted unless their is further evidence. The caseworker says that this neither acceptable nor possible as Ms H has not gathered further evidence yet. The phone call ends.

During the third phone call, the request for a mandatory reconsideration is accepted without question.

Having successfully lodged the mandatory reconsideration request, the caseworker then has to explain a few things to Ms H. These few things are as follows:

While she is waiting for the Decision Maker to look at the mandatory reconsideration request, Ms H will not be paid any money.

There is no time limit within which the DWP must carry out a mandatory reconsideration so Ms H could be without an income for quite some time.

The only way Ms H can have any hope of an income while the DWP looks at her case, is to apply for a benefit that is totally inappropriate for someone who is sick: Jobseekers Allowance (JSA).

One of the qualifying conditions for JSA is that claimants actively seeking work.

If claimants do not adhere to this condition, they face harsh sanctions.

Ms H looks confused.

She looks confused because what she's just been told is very confusing.

Ms H asks why it is like this.

The caseworker wants to say something along the lines of, well, you know, it's like this because of a hostile culture of gate keeping within the Department for Work and Pensions that has been designed in the most cynical fashion by the Secretary of State in order to deter people from accessing their legal rights and to mislead the public by taking vulnerable people like you and forcing them onto Jobseekers Allowance (with all the pressure and expectation such a claim entails) so that the Department can be seen to be reducing the number of people on sickness benefit no matter how much genuine suffering it causes.

But the caseworker doesn't say that. She just shakes her head and does one of those understanding smiles.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

'This is Quite Scary'

There was a report in today's Mail Online about a group of students singing misogynistic and racist songs on a bus. Here is an excerpt:

A shocking video of university students singing sexist songs on a packed public bus has gone viral. The mobile phone footage shows male members of the University of Stirling’s hockey club drinking beer and shouting derogatory sexual and racist chants while other passengers look on. The students from the university in Scotland are filmed laughing at a joke about miscarriages ... women on board were clearly uncomfortable about the antics of the team ... and one said: ‘This is quite scary.’

And now, FYI, here are some of the other news stories in today's Mail Online:

In bed with Holly Willoughby: FEMAIL goes undercover with the nation's sweetheart as she unveils BHS bedroom range

That didn't take long! Amy Willerton strips to her bikini just two hours after touching down in Australia

Jennifer Lawrence shows off her sexy curves and just a hint of midriff in skintight skirt and top combo

PICTURE EXCLUSIVE: Kate Moss the Playboy Bunny

It's almost that time of year: Amy Childs is festive in a plunging red dress

Miranda Lambert reveals how low-calorie cocktails and portion control are secrets to her weight loss

'I have laser treatments and Botox': Thor star Rene Russo, 59 on her age-defying secrets to staying beautiful

She won't be running! Pamela Anderson makes a statement in low-cut satin minidress, fishnet ankle socks and red heels

Kerr-ping all eyes on her! Miranda wows in daring backless cot-out dress

Caroline Flack falls victim to her hemline as she accidentally flashes her underwear while wearing a thigh-skimming LBD

Awww, Good old Mail Online, the decent, no nonsense, family-friendly news website with actual, real news in it that is committed to upholding our British values and cultural traditions. The website that publishes SERIOUS WRITING by people like Rachel Johnson and Quentin Letts about things like THE ECONOMY and FOREIGN POLICY  - and that also publishes film reviews by Brian Viner who, in his review of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire says that AS A FATHER, he is uncomfortable with all the violence in the film and, therefore, questions its 12A certificate - the website that asks, Could YOU lose two stone on the corset diet? and prints heartbreaking, 'how can this be happening to our children!?' articles about young women starving themselves do death because they hate their bodies and other articles about young women committing suicide because they've been systematically bullied about the way they look and that also commissions word-of-warning commentaries about how teenage girls really should shoulder at least some of the responsibility when their teachers abduct them and take them abroad (fair's fair, people!); the website that even gives us (and our kids, don't forget because this is news for all the family! Yay!), just to, you know, ROUND THINGS UP, some good old-fashioned, just-a-bit-of-fun pornography to look at all the way down its right-hand side on a daily basis. That website. Good old, traditional, magestic Mail Online. It's so, very heartening and really not surprising or at all confusing or fucked up, to learn that this cyber-fountain of morality, dignity and pornography-masked-as-celeb-gossip is so shocked and concerned about a group of young, male students, barely over the bridge of their formative years, sitting on a public bus singing a song about raping women.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Women's Lip

Look at this quite badly taken photograph of an advert for No7 lipstick in Boots. 




The tag line reads, You will take these red lips seriously. And there's some more copy at the bottom which reads, she's not airbrushed, she's not retouched, she's just No7.

Oh dear.

Let's discuss.

So, who is the woman in the advert? Well, she's wearing a smart, black jacket which instantly makes us think, CAREER, doesn't it? Her hair is greying so maybe she's reaching the top of the CAREER LADDER. OMG, she's a manager! Good for her!

She looks in control and a little bit aloof, yet semi-approachable with that Mona Lisa smile; the sort of boss who will be understanding(ish) about you needing to take a day off work if you had died in a plane crash. But she also doesn't take any shit (she didn't get where she is today - as a career woman - by taking shit) so you would need to have a really good reason for being on that plane in the first place and you would also have to prepare a report and draw a graph and write a presentation and have her period for her by firstthingmondaymorning, capeesh? 

And you would take her seriously when she gave you these orders. Sorry, you would take the words coming out of her mouth seriously. Sorry, no, you would take her mouth seriously. Her red mouth. Because that's what the advert says. And we all know, do we not, that in order to take a female boss seriously, she has to have the right colour mouth. How many times have we been disciplined by a female superior for burning down the office and smearing poo all over ourselves while still in our uniforms, only to think, once we've gone home and changed into our Alice in Chains hoodies and settled down to a nice, comforting bowl of Alphabetti Spaghetti, HANG ON AN EFFING MINUTE! EMMA'S LIPS WERE THE COLOUR OF LIPS WHILE SHE WAS BERATING ME!!!!! WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING LETTING HER TRAMPLE ALL OVER ME LIKE THAT!?!?!?!?!?!? EVERYONE KNOWS THE RULE ABOUT HIGH-FLYING WOMEN AND THE COLOUR OF THEIR LIPS!!!!

Bullshit, of course. But also, what? And, really?

This advert is really confused by itself. What is it saying?

Women are to be taken seriously but beware of women because red means danger and let's all be honest with ourselves here, women at the top are into S&M but that's cool because look at us, we're feminists! We've got a model with grey hair in our advert! But, wait! Women who wear red lipstick are witches and they put seriousness spells on you but on the other hand women can do hypnotherapy just like men can which equals equality and the colour of equality is red and roses are red, violets are blue.

This advert thinks that the woman in it - and what she is saying -  is a symbol of EMPOWERMENT and CONTROL and EQUALITY and of being DETERMINED and UNAPOLOGETIC; You will take me my lips seriously! I, as a woman My red lips, as a symbol of my aroused vagina, demand respect while I'm wearing my work clothes! I, as a successful businesswoman My appearance deserves the same rights in the workplace as any man! And when my make-up comes off half way through the day and I start to feel emotional and fail miserably at my job and my brain drips through my ears and slides down my lipstickless mouth, I reserve the right to come crying to you, my inferior male employee in his early twenties, fall into your arms, and beg you to to help me wiv the weird noises on my puter until you scrape me from the floor, pat me on the bottom and tell me to go to the loo to freshen up so that I can be taken seriously once more because, equality, equality, equality!!! BLACK HOLE.


fin

Monday, 2 September 2013

Casting Call

Below is a casting call for an advert for Dulux paint. It's completely real:

Our two roles, Bill and Jess, should look like regular people in their late 20s. They need to be instantly likeable. People our audience can relate to. Not too good looking, neither too quirky. Importantly they need to be a believable couple. I suggest we cast in couples (rather than individually) to see who feels and looks right with each other. We'll be looking to capture a full range of performances from them in terms of emotion; nervousness, excitement, anxiety, happiness.
Importantly, Jess should look like the kind of girl who is NOT into football. Or lad’s sport of any kind. She’s a girl’s girl. A cheerful primary school teacher who loves pilates, quinoa salad, colourful clothes and watching rom coms.

Bill is an easy-going IT technician who loves couch surfing, pizza, wearing his favourite football shirt and supporting his beloved team. The kind of guy who despairs at the prospect of watching a rom-com or doing pilates. 

Below is an application for the above casting call:

Hi!

I am applying for the role of Jess in the Dulux advert. I believe that I would be perfect for the part and, when I say 'perfect', I mean literally perfect. Here is why:

First of all, my name is literally Jess! And I literally have a boyfriend called Bill! How weird is that! But my boyfriend Bill isn't going to apply for the part of Bill because he's just broken up with me.

Second of all, I am a regular person in my 20s. In fact, I'm so regular that I can make literally anyone's mind go completely blank just by looking at them. My nickname at school was vagina-plus-penis-plus-Gordon-Brown-face. That last point isn't related to this application, it's just a fact.

Third of all, I am instantly likeable. I know this because I have 17 friends on Myspace and none of them have ever even met me. Like, EVER. And they friended me back as soon as I friended them. My fave Myspace friend is imgonnagetya52. He is  H I L A R I O U S. He pretends that he lives with his mum and that he steals her money and that he doesn't let her have friends over even though it's her house. It's like an on-line persona. In fact, he might be really good for the role of Bill! I'll send him a link to your advert! 

Fourth of all, I'm not too good looking and I don't know what quirky means so I'm definitely not that either.

Fifth of all, I believe that all people - including couples - are believable. I literally believe EVERYONE.

Sixth of all, my performance range is incredibly full and I can do all the emotions, especially fear, anxiety, down in the dumps, guilt, low self-esteem, blank, sad, tearful, tired and clumsy. I know that not all of those are in the casting call but it's important that you know all the things I can do because it's loads.

Seventh of all, I am NOT into football. My dad was really into football. Like, really into it. And when I was born and I wasn't a boy, my dad was really pissed off because he really wanted a son to play football with. So, he tried to play football with me but I couldn't really do it because of a phobia I had about circles and my dad got really, really, really, really, really, really, really angry and then he went to the shop to buy a newspaper and I haven't seen him since. So the moral of that story is that I am not into football at all! lol

Eighth of all, I know that I'm definitely a girl's girl because of my duvet cover (Zac Efron).

Ninth of all, I've never been a primary school teacher but I have done a 'Teach Yourself About the Olden Days' video on YouTube and I got loads of comments so loads of people watched it. The comments were so funny! A few were quite nice too!

Tenth of all, I LOVE pirates! I'm so glad that's one of the things you wanted!

Eleventh of all, I wouldn't normally eat quinoas because I'm vegetarian but I think that I could act as if  I like them if you could provide me with a therapist to talk to about some stuff.

Twelfth of all, colourful clothes and watching rom coms is my middle name! Literally! I absolutely live for rom coms! They're so romantic and funny! I love how, when you're watching one, you always think that the couple aren't going to get together but then, just before the end, there's a really clever twist that's completely unexpected and then they do get together! It makes me feel really, really, really happy. And really safe.

So, as you can see, I'm literally perfect for this part. I really feel like it's totally meant to be. Also, Dulux is my FAVE kind of paint. On my last day of school, as a joke, some of the people in my year waited for me to walk under the bridge in the playground and they were standing on the bridge and just as I walked under, they poured loads of paint all over me. For AGES. I didn't even run away while it was happening!The timing was perfect! It was such a good joke! And now, whenever I smell paint, I think of that. So, I think I could really get into the character of Jess because of that memory I have. A bit like that memory guy, Stanislavski.

Ps: I know that my application is one day late but I only saw it yesterday and I couldn't do it then because I got an anonymous email from this guy who said he was my dad and that he really missed me and wanted to see me and to meet him by the chip shop at 2:30pm and so I went and I waited for ages but he didn't come and then when I got home, I got a message entitled 'Gullible' on Myspace from imgonnagetya52 and then I just went to bed.

Friday, 2 August 2013

A-Z #10

Status Updates

Awwww sad face cos of poorly cats
Breakfast was nice today already planning lunch lol
Can't find my coat
Didn't know it would be raining today boo
English weather eh lol
Found my coat
Got a new pen in the post today excited can't wait to use it
Has anyone got any recommendations for cool stuff to write with a biro
I just nearly sneezed but then didn't
Just sneezed
Kula Shaker playing in lounge while I'm in kitchen staring at the floor lol
LITERALLY just lol'd cos of amazing joke on Loose Women
Might sit down in a bit
Not sitting down just yet but watch this space lol
Oh now I am (sitting down I mean)
Putting on my coat ready to go into town to get some bubble gum
Quite quiet in town for some reason not sure why
Right that's that done bubble gum BOUGHT back home again now
Strawberry cheese cake flavoured bubble gum anyone lol
Tried to call my mate just now but engaged for ever
Upset that my mate hasn't called me back wonder why
Very tired actually yawn
Well, that's me for today night all be good lol
X-ray
You don't understand what it's like
Zoo

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Dear Misogynist

Dear Misogynist

If I was walking down the street with a man by my side would you have said, 'nice tits, sweetheart'?

If I was in the shop buying condoms with my boyfriend would you have said, 'do you fancy putting one of those on me later?'

If I was at work with a male chaperon would you have said, 'you're far too sexy to be doing a job like this'?

If I was crossing the road with my dad would you have said, 'hey baby, I wanna tap you'?

If I was walking out of my house with my brother at 8am, would you have said, 'fancy an early morning fuck?'

If I was on the tube with my uncle would you have stared at me for the whole journey and then walked past me and said 'sexy lady' in my ear when we alighted?

If I was walking past you with my male boss, would you have cat called me and then called me a stupid bitch when I told you to leave me alone?

If I was in the car with a male companion, would you have mouthed the words, 'I wanna fuck you' at me?

If I was in the doctor's waiting room with a male friend would you have said, 'are you having your tits checked, cos I fucking envy the doctor who's doing that'?

If I was on the bus with my grandfather, would you have tried to touch me and then laughed at me and called me a whore when I told you to stop?

If I was walking out of the train station with my step dad, would you have told me I was a lesbian cunt when I answered 'no, go away' to your obscene question?

If I was in the park with another man would you have walked past me and done that thing where you waggle your tongue between your two fingers at me?

My guess is that the answer to all of these questions is no.

I hope you get better soon.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

A - Z #9

Top Tips for a Successful Audition

Attention seek like there's absolutely no tommoz
Be! Excited! Be, be excited!
Cry unexpectedly but in a way that's interesting (eg, have blood for tears?)
Do one of these
Egg yourself on by literally egging yourself on stage
Forage about in the space for 'found objects'
Get over your nerves by stopping being nervous
Have an out of body experience. But in character
Imagine that the director is not a director but a depressed womble.
Just be yourself. NOT.
Knock on things to create a sense of rhythm in what you're saying
Listen with your eyes
Move around cleverly to show that your body is just a massive brain
Never take an animal to an audition. Unless it's a power animal
On finishing, apologise for any errors and punch yourself to show you mean it
Pretend to be someone else
Questions for the director: 1. What? 2. How? 3. How? 4. Why? 5. How?
Real acting is never as good as pretend acting
Show off your versatility by shivering if it's hot and sweating if it's cold etc
Take a leaf out of Jane's book and just be really natural
Underwhelm is the new overwhelm which is the old onwhelm
Veer away from prosaic words such as 'horse', 'fruit' and 'shoe'
Wear all of these:

X-ray
You won't need luck when you've got the Power of Grayskull
Zoo

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Mary

Mary is in her fifties and hasn't been very well for a long time. She drinks heavily and cries a lot. She goes through phases of feeling suicidal and very hopeless. Mary can't read or write and doesn't like to ask for help. She feels very alone and isolated.

Right now, Mary has no income at all and this has been the case since the beginning of March. She used to get Incapacity Benefit but this was scrapped when the new sickness benefit, Employment & Support Allowance (ESA) was introduced. Mary was 'invited' to make a claim for ESA, which she did. Her claim was not successful, despite the fact that Mary couldn't enter the assessment room without her son there because of anxiety, had a panic attack half way through and told the medical professional conducting the assessment that she had tried to commit suicide just weeks before.

Quite soon after this, Mary had a big falling out with her son and he went away for a while. Mary's son is usually the one who helps her with letters and forms. While her son was away, Mary received the decision letter about her ESA telling her that she was fit for work but she couldn't read it. She started to drink heavily to stop feeling bad about the argument with her son and she blacked out for a few days.

These days turned into weeks and Mary's money was stopped without her really knowing. Because she had been turned down for ESA, Mary's Housing Benefit was also suspended. The Housing Benefit department wrote to her to tell her this but Mary didn't open the letter because she didn't see the point when she wouldn't have been able to read it.

Weeks became months. Mary hid away in her house drinking heavily and hearing voices in her head. Her housing association served her with a notice of seeking possession because of the rent arrears she'd accrued as a result of her Housing Benefit stopping which had happened because her ESA claim had been turned down. Mary tried to commit suicide again. Her son found her just in time.

Mary has now submitted a late appeal against the decision about her claim for ESA. While she waits for a decision as to whether or not she will be allowed to appeal, her income will remain at zero. The decision might be made in a month, maybe in two or three. Mary was advised to contact Bristol City Council for an emergency payment. She did this. She was given £30. She will not be eligible for this kind of help again for 12 months.

Mary really doesn't think, on balance, that she is fit for work and she doesn't think that the decision makers do, either. In her own words, you're just a puppet to them; just another number; just another success story if they turn you down. Well, if I'm a success, if my life is a success, I just don't know what to say, it's just like they're on another planet altogether, you know what I mean?

Since this post was written, Mary has attempted suicide again and is currently in hospital.