Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Don't even try

In my local JSA, as I assume there is in all JSAs, there is a person called the Decision Maker. The Decision Maker doesn't like me. The Decision Maker has just stopped my dole. Again. Another week without money. The reason is because I went home for Christmas. To see my mum. At Christmas. I had, on the last occasion I signed on filled in a form to say I would be going back to England for Christmas. This was sent away to the Decision Maker and I was sent on a surprise, unadvertised interview with a man who wanted to ask me about my progress and who was very sympathetic when I ranted at him for the best part of half an hour. During that time my original interlocutor reappeared, said the Decision Maker had okayed my holiday, merry Christmas, and got me to sign a form.

That was what happened. What in fact should have happened is the following: the interviewer should have sent me to another part of the building where THEY would have given me the form, asked the Decision Maker on my behalf whether I was allowed to see my mum at Christmas, on approval they would have torn the first three sheets of the form off and given them to me as they contained relevant information, carefully explained that the day after of my return has now become my de facto signing on date and, latterly, sent me a letter once again explaining when I was due to sign on in "clear" and "concise" government prose i.e. rococo gibberish but with the dates clearly high-lighted for ease of use.

Of course, I only found this out today. After my claim had been cancelled, after the fifteen forms I had filled in. After two more twenty minute waits in empty rooms listening to the staff talking about their lunches. After another two philibustering performances that have me railing against the ineptitude of the JSA staff always, without fail, meaning that I suffer, that I'm the loser. Meaning more forms, more pointless meetings. She rang the Decision Maker, describing me as a "very angry Mr. Higgins, I'm sure you are already aware of him" - which instilled confidence in me that I would get a fair hearing from The DM. He cancelled my claim but I was then told he had no choice, given that I hadn't turned up on the appointed date ("but nobody told me to!" "I'm sorry about that!") and hadn't contacted them within five days ("but how was I supposed to know that, I received no letter!" "I'm sorry about that.") he had to close my claim. So why is he the Decision Maker, if his hands are tied? Surely he's just the Rule Follower and has no autonomy whatsoever, I suggest. We don't make the rules, Mr Higgins, we're in the same position as you. I look at her behind the desk. She has a job, she will be paid. Unless she spunks her entire salary on more tattoos, she will probably be able to pay the mortgage she undoubtedly has. We are not in the same position. I let it go. The fights gone out of me. I've been incensed for an hour and it's not fun any more. I leave with another loo-roll of bumf and an appointment to reclaim on Friday afternoon that I'm assured will take an hour.

Today is the 6 month anniversary of Kelly's death. I had intended to say something about her here. But the poison of tawdry quotidian life has stolen in and robbed me of any poetry. I'm going down to Gulladuff, by bus, today. To see High and Kate and to see her grave. I've never gone by bus before and was hoping to get all my thoughts in order. To be fitting. But the dull spark of fury clicking behind my eyes like a fucked pilot light is because of something as stupid as dole money and not about the monstrous injustice of her dying.

I didn't sleep again last night as I could think of nothing but her. How she looked, how she smelt, how she felt. The eyes and the head movements that I occasionally see flashing for an instant on the faces of her family. Just a moment of Kelly, then gone. I miss her mind more, I miss her thoughts, I miss her quickness, her smarts. I miss thinking that I must, finally, be all right because she liked me. I miss her not being around. And I have done every day for the last six months.

I love her so much, uselessly. Because she's not around to love me back.


  1. the jsa idiots are taking the piss/sadists/stupider-than-stupid/incompetent: sounds like getting wrong advice from 3 consecutive jobsworths re The Wrong Christmas Form is beyond a simple mistake - they plainly don't care. I'd get Jeremy Clarkson to line them up and shoot 'em, if it wasn't for the fact that clearly these people are the best of the bunch of hopeless civil (ha) servants currently available... and what a total, total bad piece of timing for all this stress to re-land on you yesterday of all days.

  2. I love your writing: "But the dull spark of fury clicking behind my eyes like a fucked pilot light is because of something as stupid as dole money and not about the monstrous injustice of her dying."