Tag Archives: Britain

Just to survive

You only have to walk into any UK pub to overhear a conversation bashing benefits these days. It’s something that splits opinion all over the country. With the growing trend in what media experts are dubbing ‘poverty porn’, it seems as though people on the breadline are being made out to be the lowest of the low, the dregs of society, the absolute worst human beings you could possibly encounter. And that generalisation annoys the fucking hell out of me.

Sure, there are some people who are living on benefits because they either don’t know or don’t care about what happens in their lives, and they genuinely think that the best way to live is to effectively steal money from people who’ve worked seven days a week for the whole of their lives. Don’t get me wrong; I think people like that are absolute idiots – because they give the rest of those on benefits an incredibly bad name. But that isn’t the full story.

You see somebody who isn’t working. What do you think of them? If you’re anything like the majority of judgmental shitheads in the country, you’ll immediately jump to the conclusion that they’re lazy scroungers who are good for nothing. But have you stopped to consider the fact that they might actually have a disability? You might not be able to see what this is, it may not be obvious to you, but there’s every chance that it’s there. They may spend the whole of their lives in pain, waiting until they are able to take their next dose of medication to ease their symptoms a tiny bit, without even having the positivity to hope that things could get better.

They might crave normality in their lives, and might spend every waking hour wishing they were able to get up and go to work, but knowing that they may never be able to. Instead they have to rely on other people – which might lower their self esteem even more, and will never be able to “contribute to society” in the same way that some people believe every human being should be forced to – no matter whether they’re physically able to or not.

You should also be aware of the actual statistics with regards to benefits claimants and the proportion of money that the government has to spend on them. The way it’s portrayed in the media, you would be forgiven for thinking that most benefits payments are given to the jobless, but this isn’t often the case. A lot goes towards the state pension, which is for people who have worked their whole lives and paid more than their fair share into the economy. So, do you seriously think that they should be made to hand back their pension and go off to work? I don’t think so!

And then there’s that lovely group of middle-class earners who take ‘child benefit’, because it’s their right to do so. They don’t need it but they take it anyway. And they’re often the ones moaning longest and loudest about scroungers. Lovely folk.

So, before you sit in the pub, talking shit about what you “believe” or what you think you “know” about the economy, benefits, and the way things work, just remember that really, you probably don’t understand even half of the full story. And, by tarring everyone with the same brush, you’re probably ruining the lives of people who need these benefits just to survive day by day.

You never know – you might be reliant on “the system” at some point yourself.

A delicious two years

I’m not scared to admit that I am afraid of obesity. The health complications, the isolation, the social rejection. I have been a ‘fat girl’, and it sucks. It scares the hell out of me.

I have to live in this body for the rest of my life. I can’t have collapsed arches, collapsed veins, and diabetes and high blood pressure brought on by weight. I have a family bent towards excessive weight gain, especially in the waist, hip, and thigh areas. I see what it does to their knees, their hips and, most importantly, their self-esteem.

When it comes to weight gain, we as a society are not kind. I want to be able to run around with my kids when I have them and do what a woman my age should be expected to do, without complaint. I want to be happy in my own skin.

And I was. Very happy. I was a stone cold fox…until we moved to the UK. A slow creep started two years ago and I’ve gained a stone since. I’m 5 foot 7 with a medium build; I started out at the mid 140’s and now I’m at 158 pounds, and it feels fucking disgusting.

Plato said, “Think of the human body as a ship. It should not be overloaded.” And my ship is listing to port side. I’m fat and I have to shift this shit before it fucking takes over. I have to lose weight because if I don’t it’s too slippery of a slope for me to not roll all the way down.

Fear and panic is what helped me lose weight the first time and it’s what kept the weight off. But that’s gone away now. In fact, once I got married I can honestly say I stopped weighing myself. Not that I didn’t care about how I looked, but I was so happy and comfortable, I felt so loved, that the scales just didn’t figure into things any more. I didn’t need to be one number or another to feel comfortable in my skin. And it’s not just me – when I met my husband he had a washboard stomach, very nice arm/calf muscles, and could lift me up with no more effort than a mother cat with a baby kitten. No more.

The UK is a minefield of pub culture, grey meat encased in wet pastry, weather that makes you cry, and really tasty ale. It’s just we two; we have no children, no mortgage, no car payments. No car, in fact, just a Vespa. We walk a lot, but we have nothing to spend our money on but ourselves and we work long hours and have little time to do that. So, we started to eat. We’ve been munching a path through London’s gastronomic multiverse. It has been a delicious two years. It’s hard to say goodbye.

We started doing a weight challenge. It sounds stupid, I know. But what’s also stupid is that I can no longer fit into the Levis I bought just last year. I used to wear my husband’s dress shirts around the house of evenings after he’d taken them off and now I can’t – too much back fat. He looks like he has a bicycle tire around his middle and the pile of pants he’s had to throw to the back of the closet is growing.

So we made an agreement to get back to our pre-UK poundage. I make healthy dinners; my husband’s in charge of healthy breakfasts. His plan of “small sustainable goals” is a novelty for me – crash diets that produce results in short order are more my thing. But this seems to be working. It’s not easy for me to choose oatmeal over croissant or lentil soup over Chicken Tikka Masala, but we’re doing it.

We have made weight loss our bitch. There will be a few extra treats left on the UK’s shelves for the rest of you to hoover up. Sorry about that.

The last Granny Smith

Thrilled. That’s the word she used. I’m not a fan of workplace violence but if we in this building were trusted to open the windows she’d currently be worrying the front wheels of a number 17 to Cannon Street.

The woman who sits next to me in my mercifully temporary ‘job’ wastes most of the breaths she has left on words and phrases such as ‘personas’ and ‘overarching user needs’. It’s some kind of research the government allows her to do in preparation for online projects which can not and will not be influenced in any way by that research, due to civil servants whose lives depend on sticking fast to impenetrable policy guidelines. Anyway, the government is all about job creation as they’ve been saying for months, and she has one. And she’s thrilled about it.

More specifically she’s thrilled at the re-election of the government which has for the last few months allowed her to get paid for work so meaningless she may as well be ordering Advent calendars for the citizens of Kathmandu. As she told me of her elation on one of the worst Mondays in living memory, she seemed truly delighted that we’d avoided what she clearly regarded as a catastrophic Labour-led coalition that would have caused immediate and irreparable damage to her bank balance and almost certainly allowed a battalion of filthy drug addicts on massive benefits to move into her spare room.

She’s not the only one I’ve heard puffing their chests out in pride at the wonderful decision many voters made in an election that’ll go down as the start of the end for many things some Britons hold dear. Equality, the BBC, the NHS, foxes; all these and more now face a variety of restrictions, cutbacks, bans and culls. Poor people will freeze and starve in great numbers as the ghost of Darwin taunts anyone not in a ‘hard-working family’ with visions of fights to the death over the last Granny Smith, which has rolled into the gutter beside the upturned stall of a recently bundled-away immigrant market trader. Their very first action will seemingly be to repeal the Human Rights Act, and I can provide no finer summation of them than that.

‘We’, though, ‘we’ will be fine. This ‘we’ includes the people who have worked hard enough to own outright at least a fraction of the property they live in. This hard work could have come about via traditional hard work, i.e. sitting bored out of your nut in an office. People in jobs that require them to go to the same place every day to do the same thing that they hate slightly more than last week, hatred they internalise as raised blood pressure rather than releasing at anyone in authority – these are the people who can now expect to be rewarded with a waterfall of golden gifts known collectively as ‘a stronger economy’, however that manifests itself.

It doesn’t have to have been your own hard work, of course. This government will probably reduce inheritance tax to allow people to pass more of the money that has been in their family for generations down to heirs who must wait patiently for interest rates to go up. If anything the wait for the Bank of England’s announcement is harder work than any performed by bleating blue collar plebs, like farmers paid below cost price for milk or cleaners not knowing how many hours they’ll get that week. Imagine having to wait a whole month to find out if grandpa’s millions will be worth millions or billions for the subsequent four weeks. Terrifying.

It could also have come about via a good stroke of fortune. Did you happen to bend over gracelessly in a nightclub packed with leering rich wankers, one of whom brought you gaily into a life of blissful married indolence? Well done, you will be rewarded by the government at the expense of someone who was born ugly through no fault of their own and who, because one low blow is never enough, can’t even find someone to fuck to keep them warm when the gas company doubles their prices because of something that happened to a pipe in the West Siberian Plain.

What are you fucking moaning about? You’ve got a pound haven’t you? Play the fucking lottery. Though, it’s two quid now. Sorry.

A few days ago all of this would have made me furious. But I’m done. If you people are going to voluntarily elect a government for the richest people in the land in the hope that they’ll somehow turn into a million Warren Buffets and shit a few bob on you once in a while, well frankly you can fuck off, oh mighty British voters.

In five years’ time, when the UK is out of the EU, Scotland has legged it and even Northern Ireland are casting glances over their shoulder at the possibility that maybe reunification isn’t such a bad idea after all, I’ll have flogged the farm and fled to Finland. You’ll be left wondering why you did this to yourselves, why all the fat people seem to have all the money, and why no matter what you do you still can’t seem to get rid of Wales.

When you look away for a few seconds and turn back to find the hunting ban repealed, don’t be throwing your arms up in anguish that they’ve inserted a clause in it to allow the hunting of homeless people with packs of beagles. Not that it matters to you, unless you find yourself unexpectedly turfed out because the land you live on has been sold to a Saudi beneath your feet and you can’t afford to live anywhere in your local area, and can’t find work outside that area that will pay your ever-increasing bills. That’s capitalism I’m afraid, that you’ve just voted for in your millions assuming bad things only happen to people who deserve it.

Well guess what: you all fucking deserve it. Your lack of faith in liberalism means you now have half a decade at least of the exact opposite. Included among a list of synonyms for ‘liberal’ in the dictionary are ‘broad’, ‘large-minded’ and ‘tolerant’. Its antonyms are ‘buttoned-up’, ‘fusty’, ‘unprogressive’ and ‘hidebound’. Thrilling. Welcome to the life you’ve chosen, and goodbye.

Vote UKIP

There’s an election on. The procession of dickheads we usually see on the news grimly telling us the country’s only hope is to lube up and take it are instead grinning and making promises akin to the young girlfriend assuring her man she’ll wait for him as he’s dragged off to the trenches, while eyeing up the bank clerk with flat feet. Policies that will never happen are being ‘red lined’ and ‘set in stone’ in a bid to make us all turn up to put a little pencil mark on a piece of paper some time on a Thursday. Life is absurd.

An election forces politicians out from behind their Civil Service forcefield and into our faces. This is when we get to find out if the latest batch should be applauded or ignored. In almost every case, the 2015 election has shown us that all they’re interested in is telling us as little detail as possible about what they truly believe, while spreading fear of the other lot. Every Party Political Broadcast involves multiple mentions of how if you vote for anyone but ‘us’ you will be directly responsible for the maiming and murder of countless citizens by a coalition of cunts. It has been by far the most obfuscated and negative campaign of my adult life and if I could vote for Guy Fawkes I would.

But there is a glimmer of hope, suggesting that 2020 may not be as calamitous for democracy as this latest round of shit-shovelling. A new group has emerged as a powerful, proud force in politics, with policies we can believe in and people who are just like us. That group is UKIP, and a vote for UKIP is a vote for our future.

Now, anyone with a passing interest in anything I’ve ever said or done may be surprised at this apparent change of tack. But Russell Brand’s example of comedic U-turning has given me courage to admit my real truth, I now realise. So, why UKIP?

Last night helped. A candidate for the party in Hampshire was suspended after being secretly filmed saying if his Conservative opponent of Sri Lankan heritage were ever to become Prime Minister he would ‘personally put a bullet between his eyes’. The idea that a random Tory named Ranil Jayawardena could become only the second PM ever to be assassinated, and the remarkable train of events we’d need to witness to get to that point, sums up why I think we need UKIP.

Politics has become fucking boring, and UKIP make politics fun again.

Who doesn’t hear ‘UKIP’ as the first word in a news report and experience a momentary exhilaration that the next two words might just be ‘have suspended’? This is a party with a long track record of selecting candidates and councillors that epitomise what it means to be traditionally British – afraid of ‘outsiders’, furious at the notion anyone should get anything from ‘the state’ they don’t deserve, jealous of other people’s success and inexplicably fearful of the threat of random gay men to their anal virginity. Brown people are inherently terrifying. Change of any kind should be resisted at all costs. Feudalism can and will prevail.

And with that in mind UKIP’s Dave Small was set loose on the internet last year with tweets about ‘poofs and dykes’, ‘perverts’ and ‘Pakis’. Kerry Smith’s choice phrases included ‘disgusting poofters’ and ‘Chinky bird’. David Silvester called homosexuality a ‘spiritual disease’, which is the very worst kind of disease with the exception of arse cancer and hangovers.

Lynton Yates declared that anyone on benefits should be banned from driving because they ‘really should catch the bus’. The famous Godfrey Bloom knows precisely where in the kitchen a woman’s place is. Matthew Ellery was nicked for robbing his own dad’s antiques shop. A whole raft of Kippers have been done for fiddling the books, while the best of all, Rozanne Duncan, declared unabashedly in a BBC TV programme that she had a problem with black people’s faces and didn’t really know why. She even had the style to admit she knew it was a slightly dubious viewpoint as she stood solidly by her lovely remarks.

Comedy even arises from the seemingly innocent. Roger Bird will forever be a hero of British politics for having stuck his cock in the wrong woman, who subsequently went public accusing him of all manner of misdemeanours. Interest was piqued as Roger, who looked 55 but turned out to be in his mid-30s, was enjoying fun times with a relatively attractive woman he would ordinarily have had little chance of penetrating. The upshot was he hadn’t done much wrong, but how we laughed at this odd, balding, bespectacled little man.

It’s because of each of these true Britons that I urge you to vote UKIP in the 2015 election. A UKIP majority government would be the most hilarious thing to have happpened in the politics of any country in humanity’s colourful history. The mother of all democracies deserves to be the pace-setter in a new utopia of news reports that make us laugh, wince and scream with rage in equal measure. Politics can, and must, be a source of mirth in these tough times to be human.

Every other party any of us could vote for will take us on yet another ride on the staid, tiresome merry-go-round we’ve been throwing up on for 15 years or more. More cuts, more stories of hospitals having no money, more libraries shutting, more teachers quitting or going on strike, more families moved out of the areas they’ve lived in for generations to make way for expensive propertry developments, more pollution, more food banks, more of a gap between the rich and poor and, by far the worst of all, more pubs closing.

Can you see Nigel Farage ever letting a pub shut? All right, so it’s a stretch to see that rubbery halfwit as Prime Minister for longer than about two and a half months before the people of Tottenham start burning down their own buildings again, someone declares Martial Law and we all get our first experience of the Home Office’s shiny new water cannons. But what a time we’d have. Britain could be great again, recalling some of our wonderful country’s finest moments, like the benevolent reign of Good King Richard III, the Charge of the Light Brigade, the Munich Agreement, Beagle 2, this summer’s Ashes and that time the dear old Queen Mum got pissed on Beefeater and pissed on a Beefeater.

So, I urge every man, woman and eligible animal to vote UKIP. I’ll vote Green to make sure it doesn’t look like a fix – we’re not Azerbaijan for Christ’s sake. I’ll take one for the team and try, somehow, to live with it. But if enough of you see purple as you enter the polling booth we could put this disgusting style of politics we’ve lapsed into to bed and finally return a bit of oomph to a country that’s dying on its arse.

First injection free

Coming from a country that generally bankrupts its citizens if they find themselves in an emergency medical situation, far be it for me to talk smack about the NHS. How can anyone argue with free health care? Sure, the US of A has free speech (sort of), but free health care? That’s for Socialists! Health care in the U.S. is something of a luxury, like a free beer on the airplane or a mint on your pillow in a 3 star hotel paid for by the company account. That is, people who can afford it, get health care.

I understand that the NHS isn’t perfect; what system is? It seems nothing short of backwards that doctors here only prescribe the drugs that you actually need for your condition, and refuse to write you largely recreational prescriptions. Medication is given out like candy in the U.S. –  it’s like Halloween for grown-ups all the time! Provided you have health insurance, or enough money to pay for private doctors, prescription drugs are plentiful for folks looking to make themselves more balanced, motivated and confident, or at least to sedate themselves to the point where they don’t give a shit.

You don’t have to prove you need medication either. In fact, random samples of drugs are offered to patients, pick-and-mix style, thanks to the young, attractive college students working part time for drug companies. Endless gaggles of chatty, blond 20 year olds in their mothers’ heels wheel suitcases full of drug samples into the doctor’s office day after day.

Never mind you don’t feel depressed; you might as well take some antidepressants home for your friends to try out! Finding it difficult to concentrate on writing your Masters dissertation? Here’s a prescription for ADD meds! Don’t smoke? Who cares – try a few handfuls of smoking cessation samples anyway! They have a hallucinatory effect while you sleep, and turn your otherwise boring dreams into Technicolor erotic escapades! The best sex you’ve ever had, the doctor quips with a sleazy wink as you redress. As you hasten to leave, the good doctor offers a course of Botox to remedy that furrow in your brow, with the first injection free as an incentive. (Botox, by the way, is generally extra; no one’s health insurance is that good.) Yes, medication is the American way.

However, if you are unfortunate enough to be like the millions of New Yorkers without health care, you are all but screwed. If by some stroke of terrible luck you end up in the back of an ambulance, the $850 ambulance ride is only the beginning of your financial woes. In your sorry state you might be taken to a hospital (hello lifelong financial bankruptcy for you and your family!), and if you’re supremely unlucky you might be taken to a Brooklyn hospital made famous by video footage of an ER nurse repeatedly stepping over a dying woman (who had collapsed on the floor of the waiting room) with as much concern as for a mop that had fallen over.

If that is your situation, then you’d be better off doing what some churches advertise in a desperate and defeatist attempt to increase their congregation numbers: try praying. Apparently simply dying in the middle of the floor isn’t enough to get you noticed; indeed, even multiple stab wounds to the head might be treated as a you-can-wait-your-damn-turn scenario. You have to be haemorrhaging out of each eyeball, have a knife lodged in your throat and half your brain spilled on the floor for an ER nurse to admit you, and even then you might have to wait your turn because there are countless other bleeding patients ahead of you. This is New York, after all.

So I find it fairly incredible that I can simply go to a UK health center and leave my wallet in my pocket. Not only that, I receive real and timely treatment. Recently, after hanging upside down on a trapeze, I had a brief spell where I couldn’t distinguish between objects of the same colour, and experienced an odd numbness in one arm. So off I went to the GP.

The GP’s extraordinary caterpillar eyebrows furrowed closer together as I talked. He ordered a taxi to take me to the hospital, informing me gravely, “it sounds as if you have a hole in your heart.” Having been in a New York hospital, I prepared myself for the worst. Would I croak on the floor of the waiting room like that poor woman in Brooklyn and my loved ones would have to find out about my tragic demise from video footage on the hospital security cameras?

My worries were assuaged when I didn’t see anybody dying on the waiting room floor. Speedy medical assistants and nurses ran a slew of tests on my eyes that left the world blurry, and then seen by the neurologist who asked if I spent any time upside down. “The trapeze explains it,” he said. “It sometimes happens. There’s no hole in your heart.”

And that was that. Sure, I was temporarily blinded, no one had offered me even an ibuprofen to ease my pain, and the GP was obviously an idiot, but my heart and wallet were intact. I was free to continue ignoring bills and credit card payments without the establishment encroaching on my god given right to ruin myself financially. Instead, I was given a pair of disposable sunglasses (free!) and sent out into the bright light of the day, wholeheartedly grateful to stumble home.

Busy times, busy people, busy minds

A few days ago I encountered a homeless man near Moorgate Station. It was 1.30am or so, and I was there ’cause I’d completed a random shift at The Water Poet that day (7.5 pounds an hour for just collecting and washing glasses, not bad). It was too late to take the Underground, and I don’t know shit about the buses, so I just got a little bit…lost. It was very dark, I was in a city I don’t really know in a country I’m new to, in a part of that city that was completely alien to me until that day and I was nervous as hell. It may seem ridiculous, but it certainly wasn’t a pleasant experience for me.

But let’s go back to the homeless guy.

He approached me very slowly, smile in his face – not a creepy smile, really, just a warm one – and probably cold to his bones. He talked to me with a very good British accent, using a polite way of speaking, with learned words. He was short, white bearded and very thin. He introduced himself, but apologized and didn’t give me his hand because it was “too dirty”, and then started to ask me if I could buy him some food at Sainsbury’s.

But then he stopped the talk, and frowned. He looked at me and asked if I was lost.

I smiled then and, of course, said “yes”. At this point he started to apologize again because he said he was putting his own problems above mine. He started to ask me what I needed, told me that he knew the bus system, all that kind of thing.

So, at that point, I sort of stopped listening to him. I knew that he’d help me for sure; of course, he had nothing better to do, and helping me could result in a grateful person with money in his pockets. So, instead of listening, I started to think about all the other people I’d approached myself, asking for help.

They numbered five, until the homeless guy showed up.

Two of them just told me something like “busy, sorry” as they walked by, phone in hand and with the same tired face I probably had on. One of them listened to me, but as he didn’t know the place where I live, he just told me that he couldn’t be of any help. The other two didn’t even reply to my “excuse me”.

And that, so far, is the one and only fucking crap thing that I hate about London. I won’t say “people are shit”, no; the main problem is our jobs. There’s always a lot more work that must be done, at all times, in all places. Talking about London is talking about busy times, busy people, busy minds. People tend to act cold because they’re just too tired to be anything else, and only fucking homeless people have the will to be kind or careful with strangers because, of course, they don’t have a job that’s draining their entirely lives out its bodies.

It’s hilarious.

I don’t know if I’m right or wrong. And of course, I can’t say that every homeless person and every random worker is exactly like this, but the truth is that I got home that night because that guy helped me, and the others just didn’t have the time needed to even listen to my words. It was very sad. I thought of it all the way home, and not in a good mood. It all seemed sad as hell.

And yes, I bought food for the guy.

Jewellery, drugs and homemade destruction derbies

I am a bitter person, I acknowledge that. But very little pisses me off as much as lottery winners.

The truth is that you’ve got more chance of a handjob from Pippa Middleton. Nowadays you put your £2 on at 13,983,816 to 1 and come away with £4m. That’s why not many bookies or mathematicians play the lotto. I don’t mind people winning the lottery, though I will admit there is a little twinge of jealousy when Wayne and Waynetta Slob match six of the smugly colourful fuckers we call ‘the winning balls’.

Still, fair play to people who still put up the cash despite the odds. My real problem is the wankers who go public about their win. The ones you see in on page 6 of The Mirror with a bottle of Champagne that some reporter has pushed into their face. At least have the fucking common decency not to remind the rest of us how poor we are.

Lottery winners who’ve gone public throughout the decades have always interested me, as a self-confessed people watcher, not in the voyeuristic, dogging kind of way, honest. Through all of my memories and even a little research most of the winners who went public seem to have one thing in common – they all appear to be absolute dickheads.

They’re a wide group of people from all walks of life. Take that media proclaimed ‘lotto lout’ Mike Carroll, a fine specimen of a man. That guy won £10m at the age of 19 and managed to blow it all on jewellery, drugs and homemade destruction derbies, and he now has less money than Greece. What about the guy who dumped his wife the week after he went public for some young bimbo?

The only thing worse than those who waste a small nation’s GDP are the other ones, the opposite of wasters, the very worst of the worst, the sub-human scum who say: “I’m not going to quit my job”. Those fuckers make my blood boil. Obviously they’re lying; why the fuck would anyone continue to clean shit-spattered toilets when they have a seven figure bank balance? They’re lying through their teeth and rubbing their win in everybody’s face. If I won millions I guarantee you I’d never work another minute of my life. The fact that they are even misguidedly considering it is like a big ‘fuck you’ to the millions of losers throughout the country.

Some of my research involved searching for reasons people have stated in their decisions to go public. Prepare yourself for this horse shit.

“The best thing about it is being able to meet other winners. Camelot organise parties every month around the country, and the other winners are like a support system. No-one else understands what it’s like.”

“Oh no, my normal friends aren’t rich enough for me and they don’t understand what it’s like to have so much money. I can’t associate with this riffraff any more; it’s bad enough that some of them shop at Waitrose.”

I could have handled these, I really could. I’ve managed to stifle the little ball of rage burning inside me for years. Then I heard something new a couple of months ago. An acquaintance of mine happened to engage in conversation with a lottery-winning couple who bagged a cheeky eight figure sum. Turns out this couple engage in a weekly ritual. You guessed it: they still play the fucking lottery! The greedy bastards think being multi-millionaires isn’t enough! What the hell is wrong with these people?

I don’t mind people winning the lottery; someone has to. I like to see money go to normal people, rather than the rich investing lots of money to make lots more money. I just don’t like seeing those smug bastards popping a Champagne cork in The Sun.

We noble carousers

It’s a shame just how much we take technology for granted. It should never cease to amaze us that a tiny metal box that fits in a trouser pocket can communicate with just about anyone in the world with the flick of a few fingers. Computers can do dazzling things and we still moan when they don’t work, disregarding the wonderment of being able to type 140 characters in a single tiny box and witness the entire human race not giving a shit.

And a remote control can now, incredibly, pause ‘live’ TV, and even let me rewind it to check whether I really did just hear that news story more or less predicting that the end of civilisation is upon us.

It’s a little hazy now, because it was over 20 minutes ago and I’ve decapitated a bottle since then. But from what I can gather, the Mayor of London was on the TV saying something like this:

“We can attach this device to you, which records whether there’s alcohol entering your bloodstream, and if you drink even so much as a beer or a glass of wine you’ll have broken the terms of your agreement. We’ll have you back in front of the court before you can trip over a bar stool.”

I have a particular dislike of the idiot who nominally runs my city but I’m hardly alone in that. This, however, is new. London, as the principal city of the country with the ‘worst’ drinking ‘problem’ in the world, is the official capital of the drunkard and I am proud to be in the vanguard of its army of elbow lifters. And our intolerable Mayor just said he’s started tagging people to make sure they don’t drink.

Again: tagging people to stop them drinking.

I’m sure the people in question have committed some terrible crime to be tagged in this way. No doubt their crime was drink-related, as statistics will tell you is the case for a majority of crimes in Britain. Of course, as anyone who has worked for Opta will know statistics are made of little more than hangovers and regrets and have no serious place in an enlightened society.

More of us drink than don’t. The number of people in Wetherspoons pubs at any given moment is likely larger than the population of a medium-sized country – Israel, say, or the Central African Republic. Those nations’ current concerns matter less to me than the idea that many of my countrymen face an attack on their civil liberties akin to the commissioning of yet another series of Downton fucking Abbey.

You could argue that it’s no different from banning someone from driving for mowing down a squadron of Hare Krishnas on the pavement outside Sainsbury’s. You’d be wrong. Alcohol is the lifeblood of this nation. The equivalent would be banning the same driver but then not letting him drink himself to death with guilt.

We noble carousers are under constant attack from those who boldly claim they have our best interests at heart while at the same time refusing to open their fucking cobweb-riddled wallets at the bar.

Enough is enough. I drink a fucking hell of a lot and I’m not ashamed to say so. Everyone knows it’ll kill me, and not suddenly when I fall and bump my dome against a paving slab but slowly, cirrhotically and surrounded by an appalling bloody mess. But I’m an Englishman and that’s what we’ve been doing for centuries and yet there are still millions of us here.

And my alternative proposal is therefore this: tag the fuckers who don’t drink enough. Not the people who don’t drink at all – they don’t tend to be the people who squeal and fucking moan at the rest of us – but those people who can drink in moderation. The ones who can have ‘a nice glass of wine’ or one single beer when they get home from work, then a cup of tea an hour later. I know, it’s astounding that these people can even get out of bed in the morning but there they are, pointing and judging and dying about five years later than the rest of us of something just as painful and grim, but sober, and confused as to why their healthy masterplan has failed.

Tag these fucking people so we can all use our amazing pocket metal to track and avoid them. Technology will allow us to ban them from pubs, so any time one of them enters there’s a sudden high-pitched screech and they have 10 seconds to turn around and leg it before their head explodes like that bloke at the start of The Running Man.

With this magnificent technology in place the rest of us will be freed from these smug bastards who want nothing more than to drag us into their world of work and boring, intoxicant-free play. We’ll be left to drink and fight and be sick and do awful and brilliant things to each other just like the British have been doing for centuries. We can once again be great, restoring us to our proper place in the world.

We might even discover some previously unknown point to the fucking Commonwealth Games and there’s not a man or woman among us who wouldn’t drink to that.

Illiterate, innumerate

Yet more employers are whining about how “young people don’t have a work ethic”, and how “everyone wants flexible hours and decent pay straight off, they don’t think they should have to earn it”. More hand-wringing over how ‘incompetent’ and ‘lazy’ British workers, particularly young British workers, are illiterate, innumerate, have shit timekeeping, can’t follow instructions, and won’t stick with anything if it’s not exactly to their liking.

Meanwhile, the same young, British workers are driving themselves to nervous fucking breakdowns, applying for everything, posting ads on Gumtree that are only ever responded to by people with poor English skills thinking that the ad is offering a job, or wankers who think it’s funny to take the piss out of the desperate by responding with something sexually suggestive. They’re uploading humiliating begging videos to YouTube and Facebook, because the business world is so immature that it thinks it’s cool to run Dragons’ Den-style recruitment processes. These young workers see all of this and think “What’s the fucking point?”

It’s not going to matter that I could be at a job that starts at 8am by 7.45am, or that I worked a summer job hauling marquee poles around – god, that was shit, but I stuck it out – or that I know better than to turn up to an interview in jeans and a hoodie. Nothing’s going to fucking matter, because you’ve had a few bad experiences with people from my socioeconomic demographic and decided to write the whole lot of us off, and tell the world via social media, newspapers and television that you’re doing so. Fucking great.

I spent my early teens to mid-twenties among the first wave of “useless young people”, despite applying for jobs that would’ve meant an hour and a half on a fucking bus, each way, despite doing a job that meant I had to get up at 4.30am so I could feed and walk the dogs, get showered and dressed and have breakfast before I had to leave the house at 6am to walk to the bus stop for the ONE bus that would get me into the city an hour before I needed to be at work.

Despite getting to work, and having to watch colleagues who lived in the fucking city eating their breakfast at their desks, because apparently I was the only one who could be bothered to be fucking organised in the morning. And anyone who knows me will tell you I’m not a morning person. There isn’t enough coffee in the world for me to be bright-eyed and bushy-fucking-tailed before about 10.30am.

Despite the fact that I was intelligent and capable, and proved it time and time again. No-one was interested, because I was a “useless, lazy, entitled young person”, so they could go and rip off some poor foreign bugger with a clean fucking conscience.

Now, in my late twenties, I’m suffering the effects of that dismissive earlier attitude – my ‘career’ hasn’t ‘advanced’ as far as some fucking suited wanker thinks it should’ve done, so I’m therefore not worth bothering with. I’m obviously a workshy waster who’d struggle to spell ‘work’, never mind actually do it. Or I get the “Oh, that’s quite a way from Norwich – and you don’t have a driving licence?” with the pitying look that says because I’m apparently incapable of doing this piss-easy thing called driving (easy if you have decent peripheral vision, and haven’t had a ‘dissociative episode’ during a driving test), I must also be incapable of reading bus timetables and working out if I can get to and from a place for the times they want me there.

I also get a lot of “Why don’t you move to the city? That would surely make finding work easier.” Yes, because I can pay the astronomical fucking rents on crappy city centre flats with Monopoly money, can’t I?

British business has spent years writing off British workers and they wonder why so many of us are now shrugging our shoulders and saying “fuck you then” at the expense of that mythical beast ‘the taxpayer’, as if we don’t pay fucking tax on just about everything we buy.

I don’t give a fuck that you probably have met some fucking useless twats – I probably went to school with most of them – but until you give everyone in the group you’re so casually trashing a chance, you don’t get to have a fucking opinion on that group as a whole. Talk about the individuals you’ve encountered but don’t fucking tar us all with the same fucking brush. You wouldn’t get away with it if you were saying “all black people are lazy”, or “all Muslim blokes expect a decent salary for an easy job”. Just because there’s no law against this particular prejudice, doesn’t make it right.

Offer me a job. Give me a chance to do it. Then tell the world – if it’s the case – that I’m lazy and incompetent. But you don’t get to fucking judge me until you’ve met me.

Wandering off down the stationery isle

I love my local Lidl. I love how it’s noticeably cheaper than the humongous Tesco that just opened next door. I love that it has survived the opening of said Tesco. I love that its counterpart, Aldi, has opened up shop nearby waving a big German ‘fuck you’ in the general direction of the same Tesco.

Just like many other supermarkets the country over, however, Lidl still can’t get past one particular aspect. It’s an aspect that I have inexplicably lamented and avoided as much as possible over the years but now I fear my silent, solo efforts need to take voice and a stand must be made.

I speak of course of the “Next Customer” conveyor belt separator.

Why the fuck do I need one of these stupid pieces of plastic to avoid entangling my shopping with that of the person in front or behind me? OK, I concede that the shopping blockers are there in order to assist the spunk monkey behind the till but in my experience the worst that has ever happened as a result of not using a piece of plastic to do the talking for me is, you guessed it, have a few polite fucking words with the cashier.

“But Matt”, I hear people say, “what if you are using your phone or not giving your shopping your full attention for whatever reason?” To that I would reply that it’s your fault if you end up with someone else’s party napkins or dry pinto beans.

Depending on the situation, most people will have some form of list that will help keep them wandering off down the stationery isle or stopping too long at the deli counter. Believe it or not this list can also be used as a check list at the check-out. It’s really not that difficult to remember if you came in for OK magazine or not and if that is a bit too confusing someone else should be shopping for you and your day-release should be reconsidered.

If you abhor eye contact, light conversation or any other form of general interaction that much, there is usually a self-service option, though you’ll inevitably need some form of assistance with it as the member of staff asks you for ID or checks your bag, swipes their magic card and enters a set of random numbers into the screen.

Next time you’re shopping, try it. Leave a little gap between you and your fellow shopper. Just watch them slyly peek over their shoulder and frantically lurch for the magic barrier after realising their precious tid-bits are at risk. Why not use all of the available stoppers to split down your own shopping into dairy, meat, fruit and veg, frozen etc? That will really fuck with them, like these stupid fucking barriers mess with me.