I did something today that if someone else had done to me, I’d have kicked off big style, with guns and lasers and sweet kick-ass karate moves.
Moo and I jumped the queue for the swings in the park.
She loves them swings. More than the slide and the rope bridge thing. She’s not the only one. Swings are popular. There’s usually a haphazard queue. Not a formal queue, with barriers and muttering pensioners. But parents do that oblique nod and furtive glance around thing anyway, and there’s unspoken acknowledgements, and somehow, you know your place. On most days, I can wait my turn. Moo can learn the art of patience from me. Usually. Innit.
Not today. I totally busted that queue and farked it in the face.
I was not in the mood to brook any arguments. I’d just found out I had been royally bloody messed around by some bureaucratic knob-donkeys – and as a consequence, something that should have happened weeks ago needs to be done all over again, for the love of Jeezus – which kind of throws my fragile equilibrium off centre and drags me kicking and wailing into strict doldrum territory.
The enforced jaunt to the park was an attempt to clear my head of the encroaching clouds. I had railed a bit on Twitter. It was obvious something was wrong. I said ‘fuck’ a lot, y’see. I only properly cuss when it’s fucking serious. I knew that Twitter couldn’t help me though. Space and trees and soggy sandpits were my agenda. Some silly play time with my daughter. Y’know, the important stuff.
But the park was busy. OF COURSE, it’s the farking school holidays, it isn’t raining, so everyone’s there. The implied queue for the blessed swings stretched implicitly through the playground. Moo wanted the swings. So I marched up there and hovered malevolently. I inwardly challenged the ENTIRE PARENTAL COMPONENT of the park’s hitherto population to even just FARKING TRY and tell me there’s a farking queue. Just TRY it. I bet NO ONE else had been wrangling with eejits on the phone for the best part of an hour previously, as well as desperately filling in farking online forms with stupid fiddly little tick boxes and STUPID FARKING BASTARD questions, all so I can get what money I’m entitled to and pay my motherfarking rent, and get my harridan landlady off my back for a few more days. No one else. Just me. And those swings were mine.
Swings. Back and forth. To and fro. Good and bad, happy and fucking sad.
But that’s my day. What’s up with you?
That’s that then. I am now officially existing on benefits.
Yes indeedio, I am one of them unwashed scroungers that the Daily Mail hates! WAHOO! The government decided that, yeah, actually, me having no income and no savings and no immediate means of supporting myself and my child is reason enough for them to help me out. Thanks, government. Cheers, DavCam! It’s a princely sum you’re spaffing into my bank account on a fortnightly basis. ‘Princely’ as in, the prince of crap. I still can’t pay my rent or bills but hey, at least now we can eat something other than dust.
No, really, it’s cool. I’m not complaining. I’m grateful. I need the money. It’s just, my head’s spinning a bit, y’know? I’ve never been this dependent on a faceless entity before. In my head, the government is a big, knobbly, posh-looking building with hordes of peasants camped outside of it. Kinda like the Houses of Parliament. But with a giant photo of DavCam’s giant shiny head sellotaped to it. So not that faceless then. But you know what I mean. It’s a THING. A collection of NOOBS. Making shite decisions that are supposed to HELP US and stuff, and yet DON’T really. I’m not a political person but I know what makes me mad. And that’s posh people keeping all the money and chopping up poor people and baking them in pies. WHICH IS WHAT WILL HAPPEN. You’ll see.
So, benefits. Again, WAHOO! Man alive, it’s good to have some pressure taken off. But fark me, it’s tricky having no money. Like, before, when I was earning some moneys, if I wanted to buy some new pants, I would just go out and buy pants? Usually some nice ones – maybe from Marks and Spencer? Cotton blend, leopard print, a bit of lace. Scented with unicorn pheromones. Innit.
Now, however, if I want to buy some new pants, I can’t. I have to wear my old ones till they fall off me in wispy tatters. Then it becomes a bit desperate, and my need to acquire pants becomes acute. The present options for my pant buying is limited. No Marks and Spencer for me now: I get SPAT ON BY MYLENE KLASS AND TWIGGY if I go within fifteen feet of M&S. Nope – now I am a benefits tart I have to buy my knickers from charity shops, or, cos charity shops are a bit pricey these days, I may have to steal pants from old ladies instead. I think it’s a farking good indication that you’re a povvo if you’re prising the mouldy knickers from some crusty granny undercarriage. Like, erm, Robin Hood. But with more underwear theft?
And pants are just the crotchless tip of the iceberg. I also cannot buy gin, books, tartan clothes, diamonds, flying monkey nuts, crack cocaine, stuffed animals or interplanetary pirate ships without thinking very carefully about whether I can afford them or not first. It’s a very new mindset for me. I don’t like it much. I hate not being able to treat Moo to stuff every now and again. But I’ll just have to get used to it, I guess, until I work out how I can
marry a fragile old man with heaps of money get a job.
I’m not alone. We’re all struggling financially. Unless you’re rich (in which case, I might marry you. Or steal your pants). Such a switch in circumstances is a bastard. When have you had to cope with something like this? And HOW did you cope? (you may be able to surmise that I am not coping that well, mahahahaahhahah *falls over*)
But, y’know, DON’T panic, cos I’m s’posed to be taking it easy and looking after myself, innit, and I guess panicking would feel farking rubbish so I probably shouldn’t. Panic, that is.
Only, I am a bit. Y’see, I need to fill out some forms of an enquiring nature which will allow me to claim some money from the government.
It kind of goes like this: Dear Government, I’ve got no money, and no way to earn any cos I care for my baby full-time, and I can’t afford childcare AND food/rent/bills/gin at the same time, so please can you give me some money, if I ask very nicely and smile beguilingly at you? Pretty please?
And the government replies: Fill in this thousand-page form and we might give you £71 a week.
The form wants to know everything. Which is fair enough. It can know my bra size if it likes. It doesn’t need to know my bra size, but I might write it on there anyway. Might help my claim. Or I could send a photo of my extraordinary arse straight to David Cameron and somehow, that could speed everything up and ensure me a comfortable share of the Tory gold pot. It really is an extraordinary arse.
Unfortunately, the sort of thing the form wants to know is how much money I already have, and how much I have coming in. Right. So, none, then. And very little, then. Savings? Nope. Have never earned enough to save any. Pensions? Uh, no, nor that either, though my plan is to to just keel over when I’m 60 and save everyone the fuss. Other benefits? Yes, the child benefit, which is a princely sum of 43p a week, or something. So how do you live…? Well, I used to have money coming in, and now I don’t. Simple. Please just HELP me, O benevolent government of ours! I throw myself upon your mercy! I prostrate myself at your righteous feet! I – oh, I haven’t got a hope in hell, have I?
Anyway, instead of panicking, as my subconscious is no doubt doing quietly within my head-space right now, I’ve come up with some ideas which will no doubt come to fruition and save my arse, and ensure Moo doesn’t exist solely on dust.
Idea number one: we start to eat dust. And build a house of dust, which we can live in. Dust is cheap and ubiquitous.
Idea number two: the government helps me find a rich, definitely close-to-death old man that I can marry, who will sign everything over to me, and then just die. There must be loads in hospitals. It’ll free up beds, and enforce this whole ‘Family is Great!’ thing they’ve got going on right now. Sorted.
Idea number three: on Twitter, I have 2,093 followers. Every follower gives me a pound. One pound. That means I get *counts on fingers* 2,093 pounds. That’s more than enough for next month’s rent, and bills, and food, with some left over to buy some yoghurt raisins for the unicorn, and pay for my train fare to BritMums Live. Woop! And if I’m covered for next month, it gives me time to build my house of dust, right? There was this woman in America who did something similar YEARS ago, only she asked EVERYONE IN THE WORLD for a dollar so she could pay off her credit card debt cos she splurged on fancy shoes or something. I read a book about it. She was a farking genius. Sure, she got loads of abuse and questioned her self-worth, but it bloody worked. She totally paid off her credit cards using the money people gave her. Farking GENIUS.
Erm, that’s it. I’m out of ideas. I’m well aware I probably have other options but my
panicked perfectly calm brain is wheeling at a hundred miles an hour. I need an income. I need affordable childcare for Moo. I need, most urgently, rent for next month. Oh and I need a farking haircut. Bastard non-self-regulating hair.
Money troubles aren’t new. Y’all are used to them. So short of eating dust, what thrifty miftiness can you offer me? I’m not a huge spender but I probably need to adapt my ways. Is saving your toenails to sprinkle on toast for a crunchy topping OK? No? Damn.