You’ve read it all before in whatever toilet paper passes for the printed press these days. How the unemployed are worthless excuses for British citizens, suckling hard at the teat of the state in between bouts of shooting meow meow into their eyeballs, having superlager fuelled sex in pub toilets and terrorising blue rinsed old ladies the nation over with their armies of illegitimate grandchildren.
Yet we’re not all like that. I for one abhor the vile taste of Buckfast, the Satan’s sputum that also passes as the de rigeur beverage of the Glaswegian ‘giro monkey’. My fashion sense – abysmal as it may be – amounts far to more than tracksuits and trainers, and I’ve not burdened the world with countless wombfruits conceived in back alleys. In short, we’re not all the evil people that make Katie Hopkins and Richard Littlejohn froth at the mouth (to the bewildering amusement of the public).
Some of us are downright normal, or as far as normal goes when you’re a dreamer. The label of ‘struggling artist’ is quite comfortable to wear, I can’t deny it, but reality overcomes the fantasy that writing may possibly provide for me. Autofellatio would likely be easier than securing that lucrative publishing deal.
So with dreams crushed we have to venture out into the big bad world and scrap for what few positions are available. They are few, believe me. If you are of the opinion that any youth with gumption and the yearning to work can find employment somewhere – possibly fuelled by government speeches and whatever journalistic diarrhoea the Daily Mail is releasing on the
populace – I beg you to provide me with some of that delicious Kool Aid you’ve been supping. To match your obviously heavily sedated and hallucinogenic state I’m sure a gallon or so will do. I fear that I have personally killed acres of rainforests to provide the amount of paper for the CVs I have sent out. My ears have gone numb from the sheer overuse of the telephone, and you can only go into a business and inquire about vacancies so many times before you come across like a less-hirsute Yosser Hughes from ‘Boys from the Blackstuff’. Short of offering the full ‘casting couch’ experience to any willing interviewers, my options are exhausted.
When that well is more than run drier than the Sahara, and having grown accustomed to the comforts of not living on the streets, we plod along to the local Job Centre to beg for the mercy of the state. Some of those keepers of the buroo are genuinely helpful individuals sometimes going out of their way to help you back into work. They don’t draw my ire. That hatred goes to the little Hitlers oh so plentiful throughout the DWP hierarchy. The people who expect you to apply to 500 jobs a week, travel 100 miles for a Starbucks interview (on your own coin of course) and will sanction you at a moment’s notice to fill their quota of ‘scrounging bastards off the welfare bill’. The kind of people for whom the Job Shop skits from ‘The League of Gentlemen’ act as a documentary/training video. It is little wonder that so many unemployed people struggle with bouts of depression when these inconsiderate souls are the people whom their lives in some cases depend on.
Thankfully I have the good fortune not to have to deal with the company that defies terms like ‘incompetence’ and ‘inconsiderate’; ATOS. I’m pretty certain that if my mental health issues were even more severe than they are that I were to have to drag my sorry form from my hermitage into their office (like the girl crawling from the TV in ‘The Ring’), I’d still be declared ‘fit for work’. Even if I were crawling in because my legs were non-existent and I’d had to pawn a wheelchair to feed myself I would wager I’d receive a similar response. Then again, if the ‘good people’ assessing our nation’s infirm can work with their heads lodged firmly up their own rectums then I can see why they reject so many cases.
What happened to ‘cradle to the grave’ welfare? The will to help out our common man, our neighbours on these isles? David Cameron spoke of ‘compassionate Conservatism’ when he took the Tory throne almost a decade ago. Compassionate Conservatism? Don’t make me laugh bitterly. I’ve seen more compassion from a rabid rottweiler let loose in a nursery. Iain Duncan Smith once said a visit to Easterhouse had changed his view completely and vowed to fight poverty and unemployment – proof if more proof was needed that a politician’s promises aren’t worth the future chip wrappers they’re reported in.
It becomes more evident to me by the day that the old Conservative strategy of ‘divide and conquer’ is once more in play, turning the middle-classes against their fellow citizens in an attempt to justify welfare cuts that resemble a Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Why else would we see such tripe as ‘Benefits Street’ gracing our televisions, or ‘The Jeremy Kyle Show’ displaying the horrors that universalism has wrought on Britain, or the incessant shrieking headlines of the London press condemning the bone-idle scrounging Northerners sapping money from the great capital and her leafy suburbs. Poverty porn at it’s finest. Forgive me if I don’t join in with the mental masturbation it spawns.
It’s a sad state of affairs. It might be the naive lefty in me that yearns for a day when we care about our less fortunate citizens rather than call them all the names under the sun. It might be the borderline Communist in me that wishes that people could be provided for without having to utilise food banks (a recent phenomenon that depresses me to no end). But what do I know? I’m just a scruffy Weegie university dropout who has struggled to afford the basics occasionally. I’m sure our esteemed Cabinet, almost all millionaires to a man, have a solution to our ills.
Now if you excuse me, all this ranting has made me thirsty and old Gideon Osborne’s tit shan’t give out the milk of human kindness forever…
This piece was written for an evening called ‘Grumpy Old Writers’ hosted by the Elgin Writers group – and a good evening it was too.