Finally! Finally. Innit.
Yep, finally it seems I’ve had some luck. Though of course it had to get worse before it got better. You may recall how I wrote about being on benefits. Yay! I’m a benefits tart. Great. Well, I’ve been waiting on my housing benefits claim, which kind of went AWOL, only nobody told me, until I desperately phoned a special secret number last week and spoke to someone who ACTUALLY gave a rat’s arse about how I was supposed to pay my rent next month, AND seemed to know what they were doing. Phew! Funnily enough – and I’m laughing through gritted teeth here – it all got sorted muchly swiftly, and now, friends and frenemies, I am in receipt of the shiny housing benefits as well.
The relief is IMMENSE. Maximus immensus. It just means one fewer thing for me to panic about each month. The housing benefit, coupled with my income support, child benefit and child tax credits, is what’s keeping me and Moo afloat. I need to figure it all out, and write it all down, maybe create a nifty spready – just to see in black and white what my incomings and outgoings really amount to. For once in my life, I am going to have to be FINANCIALLY RESPONSIBLE AND ORGANISED. Egad.
I’ll be honest. This is not where I hoped I would be at (almost) 34 years of age. Surviving on benefits? Single parent? Nah, mate. Not me. Never thought I’d be on benefits. And as fabtastic as it is to finally have a breakthrough in matters of the monetary nature, I am kind of feeling bittersweet about it too. No one WANTS to be scraping by on benefits, do they? I think I’d much rather have a steady income from a fulfilling career. Is that ever going to happen for me? I have no idea. Maybe, in time. Once I work out how exactly to become a space pirate.
Until a job in interplanetary buccaneering becomes available, then benefits floozy I am. It ain’t so bad now it is finally done. The relief is the best thing. Working out how to keep my spirits high is an entirely different matter.
The benefits are GOOD. That’s why they’re called benefits. They’re not called detriments, are they? But they come with a side order of taboo and stigma as well. Not least from the Daily Mail brigade. Seriously, wait till they find out my granddad was a GYPSY. Man alive!
So now I’m interested: are you on benefits? How do you feel about that? Maybe you’re not at all, and resent anyone who is? Or maybe I’m the only one making a huge deal out of this and should just shut the fark up?
Leave me a comment in the vacant receptacle below and I’ll pass on some of my good breakthrough karma. Innit.
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?
Me: ‘I just need to stock up on some nappies. And baby wipes’
Ex-husband: ‘OK, let’s go to Asda’
[we go to Asda]
Me: [frequently] ‘OMFG IT’S ONLY A POUND’
So I come back with:
cheap shoes for me
socks for him
sanitary towels (erm, for me)
salad in a bag that’ll last about five minutes before turning brown and creepy
baby food in pouches in case I feel too lazy to feed Moo properly
tuna (me: ‘OMFG it’s so CHEAP! Is it on offer? For the love of Jeezus, BUY ALL THE TUNA NOW’)
and finally, the most essential…
plastic bat and ball. For Moo. It was only a pound. Honest.
I should not be allowed in supermarkets. Esp not cheapo supermarkets. That’s almost SEVENTY POUNDS worth of ‘cheap’. FFS.
What was the last thing you bought that you didn’t really need?
I’ve got my foot up. I hurt it t’other day when I trod on a toy, and thought it was OK but now – two days later, FFS – it hurts like a farking bastard and I can barely stand on it. So I’ve been told to put it up. Rest it in an elevated position. Cushions a-go-go. Ouch-o-rama. Bloody bastard cunting foot. And all that.
Right now, this very moment, it is resting on a snoozing man. Very comfortable. Warm. Better than a cushion. A welcome addition to my dwelling. Goes with my furnishings. House-trained. Will take the bins out for me. Cooks delicious fajitas. Yeah – better than a cushion, any day.
The man is a guest in my house. Has been for the last few weeks. He will leave tomorrow. To go back to his house.
Neither of us feel like we have a home. Indeed, we’re both questioning what makes a home a home.
I might have to leave this house soon. I can’t afford to live here and my landlady likes to be paid rent so I’m obliged to sort something out. At the moment, my solutions include: a) living in the park, and b) writing to Benedict Cumberbatch and asking if Moo and I could lodge in his pantry. I’m guessing neither of these options will be feasible, really. Especially seeing as I’m supposed to stay fifty feet away from BenCum at all times, the spoilsport.
I thought the likelihood of me losing this house would increase its homeliness but that has not been the case. In fact, it just makes it easier to begin the process of letting go. It’s not like I’ve been here years. It’s not like it’s been in my family for generations. The walls are only walls. The bathroom is mouldy. The yard is a concrete woodlouse palace. A home should feel special, right? A building that embraces you, yeah? Something that you put love into and get love out of? Dunno. In my head, when I think of home, I get images of a place that doesn’t exist for me. A house with room and light, with a library in a turret, and Moo’s sticky hand prints everywhere.
They say, ‘home is where the heart is’ and I say, bollocks. The ‘they’ who say that have somewhere nice to live. They probably have the luxury of feeling secure and grounded. Lucky bastards. Home, for me, will be a building that I own, filled with the people that I love and want to share my life with, and adorned with all the colourful shit that I’ve accumulated over the years. If that makes me shallow for attaching sentiment to material things, then so be it.
Of course, there are good memories here. Moo’s first steps, her first birthday, her first proper Christmas. Anything she has done here, actually, makes it special in some way. But it is only temporary. I still have bags and boxes of belongings stacked about, which adds to the aura of pervading transience. Are we already on our way to elsewhere? Who knows. If I could, and if I had the means, I’d be out of here tomorrow, to try and find that elusive home.
My man-cushion has moved now, to pastures more conducive to his desire for sleep. Another tetherless soul. Both of us unbound by the bastards of circumstance.
What is ‘home’ for you? Are you where you want to be? And can we come and live in your pantry?
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*)
OK sorry I just had to say something.
I’ve got no beef with La Blair Femme. It’s not, like, she’s on my Favourite Person List or anything. But I don’t hate her. Actually, I don’t really have any significant emotions when I think about her. She’s just someone else, innit.
And then t’other day she made some comments at some conference about some stuff, and the whole world went mental-crazy and called her a bitch and a hag and all sorts of other insults and degradations based upon her appearance and demeanour (wahoo! Gotta love a bit of misogyny with your toast in the morning).
Seriously, people, please. Yes. She said some misguided things, which, I suspect, were taken out of context and reported in a way which would provide the most sensation and audience reaction. Who’d have thunk it, journalism doing such a crass thing? Almost as if it were ON PURPOSE.
Holy smoke-without-fire. One of the things she said really struck me: ‘What is important is that women have a choice’. Totally. Absolutely. I agree wiv ya, Chezza. I am totes pro-choice, me. Let’s have some more of that tasty tasty choice-stuff. Let’s make it so that women can CHOOSE to stay at home, and look after the bairns, and not have to worry about judgement from society at all. Let’s make it so that women can CHOOSE to go back to work once they’ve had some babies, and have a successful and fulfilling career, and also not be judged and other shizzle like that. So’s we are all CHOOSING STUFF, yah?
Let’s make it so that women can be self-sufficient, yeah, and also co-sufficient, if they’re lucky enough to have a partner wot loves ‘em and wants to and is able to provide for them. Right? And let’s make it so that if a co-efficient person suddenly finds herself self-sufficient, but with not so much of the farking SUFFICIENT, then there are processes in place to help that person. Yes I am totally talking about me here. I am currently trying to be self-sufficient and failing miserably, mostly cos I never, ever thought I’d be in this position, ever. And it farking sucks. I wish with ALL MY HEART that I was self-sufficient. There is nothing I want more right now. Oh, apart from affordable – or FREE – childcare so that I can go get a job and start feeling like I can support my daughter in ALL THINGS.
For what it’s worth, I don’t think Mz CB is ‘attacking yummy mummies’. I think she’s saying that she was never going to be a SAHM and that’s what works for her. And, presumably, that’s what works for millions of other women as well. And Madame B is right: I don’t think young girls should aspire to having a rich husband and spaffing out his babies. That’s the LAST thing I want for Moo. Even less than something really dangerous, like vulcanologist, or rabid space-donkey tamer. I want Moo to have choice. I want Moo to be self-sufficient. I don’t want Moo to end up like me.
But MOSTLY (I’ll shut up in a minute) I just think this whole farking fracas has been another bloody smoke’n'mirrors act designed to get us whipped about something damned inconsequential and moot, at the end of the ruddy day. SO WHAT if Her Blairness has an opinion on something? She’s not the BOSS OF EVERYTHING, is she? She’s just someone else, spouting their thoughts into the ether, like we all do every farking day, and not everyone agrees with us, do they. No. So. Innit.
Let’s all calm the fark down and shake it out. I had to just get it out of my system. And the best thing? I’m going offline for a few days, so any comments will rapidly cool in my inbox for a spell. Hoopla!
Dare I ask? Where dost thou stand on the whole Missus Chez thing?
This is not a sponsored post. Unless someone fancies paying me for it. I’ll take doughnuts. Anyone? No? Bastards.
The great thing about Twitter is that it’s like you’re stood in a vast room and if you so choose, you can totally eavesdrop on loads of people all at the same time. The other night I was doing this and caught the tail end of a conversation between two or three well-known Twitter bods about PRs and blogging, and the complications that can evolve between the two entities. It was difficult to follow the thread as stuff was being said over multiple tweets, and my eyes were tired and I was distracted by some other people talking about knickers, but I think the gist was that it’s not always easy to maintain a decent working relationship, as a blogger, with a PR, unless you’ve worked in PR yourself and have an understanding of how it all works. There were conflicting sides in the discussion, which is always handy in a mass debate. It got me thinking – again, this is hardly a new subject – about writing sponsored posts, reviews, and such like, and how I feel about all that gubbins.
So this is my experience of writing a sponsored post; fellow bloggers might find it useful, or just hilarious, as I think it showcases my general incompetence when it comes to dealing with people with grown-up jobs trying to do grown-up tasks and having to deal with noobs like me who fark it all up for them.
Shortly before Christmas I had an email from a very lovely PR lady who had obviously been reading my blog for some time and who wanted me to write some posts for one of her clients. All I would have to do would be to include a link within a key word, stick to a relevant subject, not mention rival clients, and not state that the Prime Minister is a cunt or anything politically inflammatory like that. I was even allowed to swear, for fark’s sake, which is great as I love swearing.
I agreed to do it – it’s like they were THROWING MONEY AT ME – and promptly knocked up a piece, with the link as requested, and made it festively topical as well. ‘Fantastic!’ I was told, ‘now we just wait for the client’s approval.’ So we waited. And waited. And waited.
Some time later – way AFTER Christmas – I was politely told that the client had rejected the post as it wasn’t topical any more. NO SHIT, SHERLOCK. Could I please write another post, maybe with a less time-specific theme to it? ‘Sure,’ I replied through gritted teeth, still under the impression that I could write pretty much what I wanted, as long as I included the link, and didn’t mention that the Prime Minister is a first-class dicktip of the highest order, or anything like that.
My revised post was as you’d expect: a bit sweary, a bit lairy, and totally MoVo. That’s fine, yeah? It’s what the PR lady said I could do. Everyone happy, yeah?
I waited for client approval. A week or so later, I got a sheepish email from the PR lady, which basically said, ‘Erm, our client doesn’t approve, so we can’t let you publish it, I think it’s best to call it a day, OK, thanks, bye.’
And that’s that. I replied courteously, thanking the PR lady for her time and work. And decided from then on that I will not be doing any sponsored posts, reviews, or anything for anyone else, on my blog.
I don’t think it was PR lady’s fault. She did her job. She also read my blog, which is patently obvious from some of the emails I get, that not every PR person does. Maybe it was just a case of misunderstanding, on both sides. Or maybe I am not quite as willing to bend to the conditions of others as I thought – dunno. This is just MY experience, and I know it is so much better for most other bloggers.
Wow, I’ve harped on a bit. I’ll shut up now. What I want to know is – did I fark it all up tremendously? Or does this happen regularly? I have never worked in PR, so maybe my lack of experience within this arena counts against me?
Seriously, doughnuts. You can buy me with doughnuts. FYI.
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.
So very soon there will be an event in London which will bring together lots of like-minded women from all over the country to talk all things blog. This event is called Cybher. It looks smashing, in my opinion. Although I can’t help thinking that with a futuristic name like Cybher, everyone will turn up in silver-foil bikinis and rocking big, back-combed 60s hairdos, though I may be getting it mixed up with the film Barbarella.
Sadly I’m not going. I’m going to a different blogging conference in June – big it up for BritMums Live, woop woop – and I couldn’t justify wearing my silver bikini to BOTH. It’s just not fair on the mortals. You can have too much of a good thing.
But I have been reading tweets about the upcoming Cybher and feeling a twinge of jealousy. Everyone’s so excited, it’s wonderful. It’s not often I feel benevolent towards a large group of people, but when it’s my fellow bloggers I tend to go a bit soft in the head.
Then I caught a glimpse of a conversation thread which made me fret a bit.
Two gorgeous ladies were chatting about taking blog business cards along to the event. They’d both had some printed up. They were discussing how they were going to distribute them (I farking love Twitter. It’s an eavesdropper’s paradise).
‘Wait one cotton-picking minute,’ I said to myself, ‘this sounds really organised and professional. Why don’t I have business cards? Should I have business cards? Why would I need business cards? If I get business cards, who do I give them to? Or do I just leave them in phone boxes, like those other business cards? Maybe I should get business cards…’ and so on, until my brain imploded.
Y’see, I’d not thought about the conferences as business opportunities. I pretty much see them as a massive piss up with my mates. Which is probably NOT the correct attitude to have.
Yeah, I take blogging seriously and I love it and everyfink, but is it a business? Of course, the MoVo brand is now global (3 readers in Kazakhstan, holler) and naturally, I will be bringing out a souvenir range very very soon, but if it was a business then surely Lord Sir Alan Sugar would be up my arse and in my face about ‘overheads’ and ‘profit’ and, erm, firing people? I don’t have ads on my blog, I don’t do sponsored posts (I tried, it was a farking disaster, I’ll tell y’all about it one day when I can bothered) and I don’t do reviews, so I’m not making any money from writing all my shit, and I’m not likely to neither.
If I had business cards (most likely with an image of my extraordinary arse on it. Maybe. Not really) then I’d be handing them out to people with an expectation of… what? That if they need a ranty, sweary person who can write balls about babies and bodily functions and… heck, let me think, what DO I write about… anyway, if they need someone like that, then they can call me? Dunno.
Now my brain has properly freaked out and I’m panicking about what this blog is FOR, and where it is GOING, and what my five year plan should be. FFS.
Should this blog be a ‘business’? How can I progress otherwise? And should I get business cards made for BritMums, or will I just end up with 5000 tiny pictures of my arse on cards to take home afterwards when no bugger wants them?
It seems I’ve reached the giddy heights of FAME (more like infamy) and have AT LAST garnered the attention of some well-meaning PR folk.
Hello, PR folk! *waves*
And for once, they’re offering something I’m tempted by. VERY tempted.
Now, in my (non-existent) Disclosure Policy, I CATEGORICALLY STATE that I am not interested in doing reviews, sponsored posts or suchlike. I write this blog for my sanity, for Moo to weep over when she’s older, and to get the attention I crave and the validation I need as an emotive human being. Not the free stuff. Nope. I have no problem with other blogging folk doing reviews etc, it’s just not for me.
Aha. But now, you see, a very nice lady has emailed me (hello nice lady! *waves*) and asked whether I would be interested in writing some articles for my blog, with some specific keywords within them, and in return, I would be compensated for my skills and time. And I would get to write in my ‘signature style’. And there’s no deadline. And I could write as many – or as few – as I wanted.
So far, so tempting.
What’s holding me back? My (non-existent) Disclosure Policy, which I formulated (in my brains) to preserve my integrity. That slightly icky feeling of selling out, like those actors you like and respect and then they go and do voiceovers for adverts (I’m looking at you, David Tennant). Worrying about whether my faithful readers (hello faithful readers *waves*) will be totally turned off by what would obviously be a sponsored post. Not being able to write such a post without it turning into a typical sponsored post and therefore compromising the whole mojo of my blog.
That niggling nagging voice in the back of my head is warning me off. A quick Twitter poll last night revealed that most folk would do it. And there is one overriding factor which seems to be swaying me more than anything.
I really, absolutely, totally, quite desperately NEED the money.
I fecking NEED IT.
So I should do it, yeah?
*small voice* Help!