Monday, April 22, 2013

Goat Porn

Fuck Self Pity

Good day. It's currently Monday morning.

51. I keep getting the feeling that I'm repeating myself.

I was looking at the array of drugs I have. Tiotropium (or Spiriva) to help me breathe. Ventolin to, um, help me breathe. Some pink inhaler (that I don't use any more. Seritide?) to help me breathe. Celecoxib for when my decaying bones give me a lot of grief (the drug is so expensive I'm not allowed to have a lot); industrial strength painkillers are littered around the house and in the 'medicine' cabinet there are a host of things I've forgotten what they were used for, but one of them is an anti-vomiting drug I was given when I had pleurisy to ensure I didn't bring up the antibiotics. It's like a chemist's...

The reason I mention these is because this morning I feel like shit...

I haven't actually been ill since I left work - the school was a Petri dish of disease ; although I've suffered with my knee - a new wrinkle - in the last week or so. The thing is, I don't actually feel ill, I mean, I have vaguely common cold symptoms but... you know... which all suggests that I'm not and I'm just feeling sorry for myself.

Fuck self pity I hear you shout. And you may be right.

My knee, which at one point last Thursday was so painful I thought I'd done some very serious damage to it (the pain was on the same scale as my shoulder was!), but support bandages, ibuprofen gel and inactivity have meant that I would have gone out to my vegetable plot this morning and given it's preparatory final dig and weed, but while that is healing, the rest of me feels as though someone has inserted a size 9 boot into my right lung.

My health is often more hilarious than an episode of Fawlty Towers and my doctor has occasionally burst into fits of guffawing at the way I lurch from one medical disaster to another without ever flirting with death. I have got to the stage where going to the doctor's has become psychologically stressful because I can't shake the feeling they all think I'm a hysterically funny hypochondriac (despite things like MRA scans proving that I did slip discs and that my airways are fucked, etc). The current woes actually started about two weeks ago with a cursory mention to the wife that my knee was giving me a little bit of gyp.

Then, while cleaning the duck shed out last Sunday, I turned at seeing something - a duck - out of the corner of my eye, twisted my shoulder and cricked my neck. Now cricked necks can be one of two things: a discomfort that goes within 48 hours or hell-with-sharp-teeth - and because I'm me and shit like this happens to me because I am a shit magnet - I had hell-with-sharp-teeth.

I mean, I suffer with my lower back and without tempting fate too much the doctor appears to have been on the button with her diagnosis of that - "It'll gradually get better because you're getting old." I know, that doesn't make a lot of sense (but hey neither does my writing if I don't edit it), but the reality is spondylosis is something that peters out by the time you get to an age where your bones don't give a fuck any more. Or, to be more technical, your lower back fuses as you get older, so you stop doing things like slipping discs and it gets replaced by proper arthritis, which is, of course, the same but completely different.

Anyhow, I had a cricked neck, which appeared to have made the pain in my knee disappear completely and I spent four days dealing with this upper back pain which seemed to migrate around my muscles - one day at the top of my shoulder, the next lower down around my ribs. I don't pretend to understand and I wasn't about to go and bother my doctor for something as trivial as pain, but gradually it dissipated (but didn't disappear) and with its recession came the return of my knee and last Wednesday, while showing the wife what I'd done with the vegetable plot, I twisted it and probably should have bothered the doctor with the trivial pain; but I'm a fucking martyr - in case you hadn't noticed - and I just lathered it up with painkilling gel, ibuprofen tablets (which incidentally I shouldn't take because it's not fond of COPD and vice versa) and wheat bags. Yesterday it started to subside, so the pain in my back re-registered itself on my psyche.

Then this morning came along. My breathing is shoddy; as I said I have this ache on the right side, which probably isn't my lung at all but another muscle feeling the after effects of the crick and I appear to have contracted the cold that the wife has had for the last week and a half. That's the clinker for me both positive and negative - the positive being that the wife who never gets ill has had a cold for over a week and I've only just got a whiff of it - had I been at the school I would have probably died by now. The negative is this nagging feeling that with all previous colds and viruses I've had in the last 18 months, this will end up going straight to my chest, because that's the real legacy of COPD - you can manage it, but it makes you prone to chest infections and that's ultimately what killed my mother.


Self Pity Saps

I've kept the wife away from a few things this week - a story in the paper about a 53 year old woman who lost her job last year and, despite being considerably more qualified than me, can't get a job. Even her employment adviser accepts that the woman is going to struggle to find a decent job between now and retirement. It appears that after years of encouraging the old to stay in work and for employers to give the over 50s a chance because the benefits outweigh the negatives; this isn't happening any more.

This woman could go and get a job in the local supermarket for a minimum wage. You could argue that she would at least be earning money and building up her own self-esteem, but she was on £40k a year and because she never contemplated losing her job - she was made redundant - she lived to her means and was, by and large, the ideal social mover that the Tory party depended on the vote of. She's now on just £60 a week, has less than 5 years to pay on her mortgage but is currently negotiating with her bank over ways of preventing it from being repossessed or her having to sell it and use the profits to survive. She has had over 300 applications rejected and couldn't even get the job in her local supermarket to boost her self-esteem because she was deemed over qualified and likely to leave for a better job as soon as one came along.

So she's actually in a situation where she can't get a menial job even if she wanted one and can't get a specialised job either and she could become a computer programmer, but, you know, she isn't one and it would take her a lot of time and money to become one. I use this as an example because about 50% of the jobs advertised on the Jobs Today website are for some kind of programmer and you know, applying for these jobs is a little futile and pointless.

I've applied for 37 jobs since February 15. The 37 jobs I've applied for are split into two categories - jobs I can do and jobs I might be able to do if I was lucky enough to get the job in the first place. I've had one, unsuccessful, interview and one rejection email; the other 35? Who can say? I'm pretty sure that at least 20 of them have been unsuccessful, but employers don't have to be courteous any longer. I just get the horrible feeling that finding another one is going to be a long and laborious task and one that will have lots of promises and no guarantees.

Today, at 3.30, I have a meeting to register as unemployed and claim my pathetic JSA payment. Because I've been working that's all I'll be entitled to. I won't get free prescriptions, despite probably needing them, I won't get all the things that people who have never worked will get and while, just this once, I will agree with George Osborne about welfare; what we need to do is ensure people who are on 'income based' JSA can go back to work and people like me on 'contributions based' JSA get the benefits the long-term unemployed get. I know people who haven't worked for years and have no intention of working who can get free prescriptions and all manner of free things because I've contributed every month to ensure this welfare fund helps these people; but now I need it, I'll get the barest minimum. My prescription bill is about £28 a month. That'll be almost a quarter of the money I'll get from the government. I have a mortgage, commitments, debts, responsibilities and a desire to get a new job and yet I'll get fuck all. The government don't want to give me more in case I like it and stay unemployed, but, you know, just because they think that way doesn't mean we're all likely to do it. I'm not asking for Mick Philpott styled benefits; I'm talking about getting back, for a limited period of time, what I put in. Contributions based JSA isn't that.

I've also been in an antagonistic and aggressive mood regarding my JSA appointment. Having recently been through all of this after being made redundant, I am aware that they don't want to give me anything and they will do anything to prolong my claim being paid. Despite having been made redundant in 2011, the JSA people still needed to 'write' to NCC and await written confirmation that I had indeed been made redundant. this rather annoyed me at the time because when I went for my appointment I took my redundancy agreement with me as proof that I'd lost my job legitimately - they ignored it and because I was naive and slightly nervous I accepted this and had to wait two weeks before I saw my money. This time the same is going to happen, but this time I will have another piece of paper - a ratified legal document - that states the reasons why I left my job (obviously the agreement precludes me from divulging any specifics here) and I will be quite clear with whoever I see that this piece of paper is all they need. they won't need to get in contact with my previous employer to confirm this because my previous employer has also signed this 'compromise agreement'.

The wife is berating me and telling me to stop getting wound up by this and it probably won't happen, but, you know, I've spent a lot of the last 12 years helping young people negotiate the minefield that is the Job Centre - I know what will happen and I kind of want to be arsey about it. I've paid my taxes I think I'm entitled to it. But we shall see.

Self Pity Rules

I suppose the first thing I need to get my head around is that I need some rules for this. This is now a stressful period of my life; the money is running out; we have to not just tighten the purse strings but amputate a lot of them.

[There is a degree of irony at play here; at the height of Comics International's success I was on about £30k a year (which did include other work); I had dropped to probably less than £15k when I left/was forced out. The YMCA paid piss poor money, but through hard work and achievement by the time I got to the YOT I was almost earning what I was in 1995; then I took a massive cut to go and work in education - slave labour if ever you need an example - and if I want to get another job in the area that I've worked in for last 12 years I'm probably going to have to earn the minimum wage - right back at the start again despite the experience and knowledge I have. How is that fair?]

We already grow a lot of our own stuff - only as a supplement mind - and we recycle everything, are kind to animals and have reduced our carbon imprint considerably; but I still need to earn something like £19k a year for us to break even - that might change soon when my car is paid for (but the finance company slap an extra £300 for admin charges at the end, so that's going to fuck us up big time in June if I haven't got a job), but that's the amount we need for us to just survive. That won't include any extra money being frivolously spent, so we're not going to aid in the recovery and I know a lot of others who are the same boat...

So I must start inventing culinary delights using just gravel, plastic and dog shit, oh and bindweed.

Eat This

The Uruguayan Blindfold/Taste test.
Take one Uruguayan and someone to translate:
"Let me see. The bouquet is of sweat, faintly Eastern European, a slight cologne afters. It tastes Serbian but there's a hint of the Czech Republic, mixed with something like hair and a hint of Russian oligarch. I'd hazard a guess and say this is possibly Petr Cech, but more likely Branislav Ivanovic."

Your name is Luis Suarez and you are the most horrendous comedy footballer, ever. Incidentally, for those of you who don't know, this was apropos of nothing. It was, literally, like watching an episode of The Walking Dead.

Effercio et Ineptias
  • Might be, might not.
  • I keep getting the feeling that I'm repeating myself.
  • The Lithuanians, all of them, were out on the front garden, completely naked, rutting like stags for hours on Sunday afternoon with more sex toys and buckets of lubricant than you could shake a stick at. Nobody had their legs closed for a second, It was like a butcher's window... But, if it had actually happened, how funny would it have been?
  • I don't think I have a cold, I just think there are some mornings that are better than others.
  • There's something decidedly unsettling sometimes about having a dog sitting less than a foot away from you bum snorkelling... She looks like a trussed up Christmas turkey that's been left to go furry and then dropped out of a tree house.
  • I kept my temper at the dole office. Everything I forecast happened.
  • I get spam mail from Jennifer Anniston telling me how Oprah Winfrey lost weight.
  • It is no longer Monday morning and I still keep getting the feeling that I'm repeating myself.


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