Friday, 2 December 2011

Back in the DHSS

There is a sign up in the Jobs and Benefits Office asking the patrons: "Please do not let children play unsupervised at the revolving door." Supervised play at the revolving door is fine, though.

Another sign says: "Benefit payment by cheque is ending! Payment into an account is our normal method of payment." Now, that's interesting. When I first applied for this business they asked me how I would like the money paid and I said into my account, providing them with my bank details. They sent me a cheque anyway. Of course that was in the good old days when they actually sent me cheques. Now they send me forms about boat owner-ship.

I'm eighth in the queue, waiting to hand in the form that they forgot to get me to fill originally and which is now stopping me getting any further monies.

I wait a half an hour. I am seen. They fuck me over. I shout again.

Sitting in a pub called The Lonely Poet. it has an un-poetic clientèle, mainly old blokes in anoraks, but there Italian film posters on the walls and Dave Bowie on the jukebox, so it suits me. if you're going to advertise yourself as a pub for lonely poets you have to expect one to turn up every once in a while.

I walked directly from the job and benefits centre, still railing at them as I pound the streets in the drizzle. I'm looking for a dentist called cherry valley in a place called Gilnahirk. I have never been before but I have printed off and filled in their form and found out where they are on the map. The walk is between two and three miles and I'm angry enough to enjoy it. I fully expect to get lost as I always get lost. In fact I don't. I follow my route exactly and it is where I thought it would be . The fact that it is closed is neither here nor there. So it has an unadvertised half-day on Friday which is not mentioned on the web-site, so I will have to repeat this trip again on Monday. So what? I don't expect anything to actually go right or offer me the slightest convenience. I've been doing this shit for forty years. I know what to expect. What matters is that I've found it, and then I found the The Lonely Poet. I set out to do something and I did it. That is not nothing. In my life, that is something.

The best short story that I have ever written is now on Jottify, the new writing site that is rubbish. The story is called "Desire Path". I wrote it for the Guardian short-story competition where it came nowhere. But still I worked hard on it and was very proud of it. It is by some margin the least popular thing I have ever posted on there. I think I might take it down again. Pettily.

The Lonely Poet is an odd pub. It's a glass box with Flintstone-style period brick-work and Italian sex comedy posters on the walls. the beer choices are the normal local drops: Harp, Carlsbad, Smithwicks, but they also sell Hendricks' gin which is always the mark of a classy bar. In my mind. The place is starting to fill up with an after-work Christmassy crowd. I don't think I'll stick around for a second pint.


  1. The "Editor's choice" on Jottify this week is a short story, very short, maybe 200 words, called "The Bitch". It starts out talking about how sexy this bitch is but how she always lets the protagonist down. In the end he dumps her for a more reliable model. The big reveal is's not a woman at all, its a motorcycle!

    This is what I'm up against.

  2. Your story is great so don't feel in the least bit put out by the Jottify crowd. Every single day the most read and liked things on the site are (Conversations aside) the worst, most ignorant and ill conceived poetry I have ever seen. Strange how there doesn't seem to be much of a paying market for this dross.

  3. I'm not getting paid much either! It just seems to be a counter-intuitive business model to be constantly heralding drivel - to have rubbish strewn all over your front-page. It's like littering your own garden. Ah, well...