Weeks 31 & 32

Hello! Thanks for sticking with me in this 2 week vacuum! I think there’s a lot to talk about this week about the last two weeks, so let’s cut to the chase!

Sobriety has failed! Yes, a shock to all participants (yes that is sarcasm) I’ve failed to maintain a clean living. On the bright side of things I have discovered that spirits actually have a lower calorie count, so instead of drinking beer only, I’ve now moved on to hard liquor. Folks, this is one more step towards alcoholism. Interestingly, since purchasing a pair of jogging trousers two months ago that didn’t fit, it seems the waist band of said jogging trousers have increased somewhat. So whilst I haven’t stopped drinking altogether it certainly seems that my healthy exercise regimen seems to be paying off.

Not being sober has also led me into new territories. In previous posts (some very old posts) I’ve written about being a single white male, who is unemployed, living with anxiety and depression, as well as attempting to achieve a place in the world. For me there’s not been much room for a romantic life. This past year I’ve felt that I’ve needed to reacquaint myself with myself, to grow as a person by myself, and to understand what it is to be me again. I’ve also felt that the urgency with my generation to be in a full time committed relationship, or having multiple sexual partners, is not something that is fundamentally important to the fibre of neither my character nor my existence. That is to say that I’m a grumpy loner who wants to be left alone to ponder the meaning of life, the universe, and everything.

So when I say that I have become entangled in a rather peculiar affair with a lady friend, I say it as someone who wasn’t looking for said entanglement. OK, I’m going to stop writing like this now. Ahem. Yes, I pulled on a night out on a drunken bender. Was this something I was looking for with a sober mind? No. Do I regret it? Kind of. You see, I don’t like one night stands and never have, and I do kind of like this lady friend. I’ve seen her around, had random conversations over the years, but only really met properly this past month. I came off (apparently) as a bit of an uninterested arsehole, and she came off as being actually someone who might be worth knowing, but probably out of my league (besides my attempts to remain a bachelor… Which is probably why I came off as being a bit of an arsehole). So after a drunken night out with friends (one of whom is going out with my lady friend’s best friend) I ended up taking her back to mine and having my way with her (Jesus, I really need to stop typing in this stupid voice). This wasn’t what I wanted. True, I probably would never have approached her about “courting” or whatever in my right mind (being the shy/cowardly bachelor I am), but now I’m stuck in a weird-y dance that’s “courting” but “not-courting” because she doesn’t want to do that, and neither do I – but I don’t know how to show I’m still interested in someone without the whole dating fiasco.

So because I’m confused and don’t know how to approach this new situation I’m now stuck in a kind of limbo where I may or may not be kind of dating someone. But then do I really want to put a label on it? But then do I want to appear uninterested? So besides having a weird-y double-date last week the whole thing just feels awkward and a little bit forced. I’m not comfortable letting someone new completely into my life right now, but from what I know of her she’s probably thinking the same. So as any nerd with social inadequacies would testify I’ve resorted to studying TV shows, the highlight of the bunch being Dexter. Yes, a crime drama about a sociopath serial killer and his attempts to blend with society has become my bible. I should just give up now. Judging by the size of the last three paragraphs I think I’ve given myself further documented proof that being single is so much more easy hassle free.

In other news: The DWP (that’s the Department for Work and Pensions were kind enough to send me a letter through today stating, and I quote:

“You were recently referred to undertake Mandatory Work Activity. When we first referred you to the Work Programme we gave/sent you a letter in which we told you about your requirement to participate, set out what you must do as part of that requirement and provided information about the consequences of any failure to take part. I am now writing to you and other participants in the Work Programme to provide more detail of those consequences. All other requirements remain as set out in your initial notification letter.

In your initial notification letter we said that your Jobseeker’s Allowance could stop for up to 26 weeks if you fail, without a good reason, to take part in the Work Programme. This would include failing to complete any activity that your Provider has required you to do.

If you do fail to take part and we decide that your Jobseeker’s Allowance should be sanctioned, your benefit will be stopped and you will lose National Insurance credits for:

• two weeks, for a first failure;

• four weeks, if we have previously decided that your JSA should be sanctioned because you failed without good reason to take part in the Work Programme or any other scheme set up under the Jobseeker’s Allowance (Employment Skills and Enterprise Scheme) Regulations 2011, and that sanction started within the last 12 months; or

• 26 weeks, if we decided on two or more previous occasions that your JSA should be sanctioned because you failed without good reason to take part in the Work Programme or any other scheme set up under those Regulations, and the most recent sanction started within the last 12 months.

If your benefit is stopped for 26 weeks, you may have the sanction lifted (after a minimum of 4 weeks) if you:

• fully re-engage with the sanctioned requirement at any time ;or

• fully engage with a different requirement notified to you.

This letter is for information only and you do not need to take any action. If you have any queries, please ask at your next appointment at the Jobcentre.

Yours sincerely,

Manager (on behalf of the Secretary of State)”

Now, I’ve previously written about MWA/Workfare/Mandatory Work Placement in previous entries. It’s not too far removed from being full blown slave labour. Granted, atleast with slave labour they fed you, but that’s a whole different story. Let me tell you though what really bugs the crap out of me about this:

1) Using the threat of sanctions on your benefits to ensure your full co-operation. You fail to attend your money will be stopped. No food for you, loser!

2) “You were recently referred” – wait, what? Who referred me? No one mentioned anything to me! Is this because I did it last year, before I signed off from the Jobcentre and got a job that I’m quite happy to do something like this again? I thought this whole thing was meant to be voluntary! Wait, it’s now mandatory? When did that change and how the hell is this legal?

3) I’m also expected to work 30 hours a week in a position that isn’t relevant to any experience I require, and still apply for full-time work and attend job interviews? (http://bpacc.co.uk/workfare/)

I’ve ranted about this government’s policies a lot over the last 8 months in regard to healthcare, mental healthcare, and welfare, and to be honest I’m sick of it. The short and sweet of it is Workfare isn’t helpful, if anything it was more detrimental to my own wellbeing. Those who organised my placement didn’t care about my mental health at the time, and I ended up approaching the manager of the shop I was sent to work in to inform them. The argument I suppose is, “Well why weren’t you claiming sickness or incapacity benefit?” Because of what my own father and millions of other people who are legitimately unable to work are currently experiencing with ATOS and the government’s restructuring of these benefits. I may have been eligible to apply, but they would probably have rejected me on the grounds that they “Couldn’t see my illness.” (http://bpacc.co.uk/the-hardest-hit/) that’s right, western civilization! We take 2 steps forward in humanity (did you see NASA land Curiosity on Mars? Amazing!), then take 5 steps back.

So I guess we’ve safely found two things that easily grind my gears tonight, relationships with women and politics. Exasperating! Luckily for me on the latter though I may avoid being placed on Mandatory Work Activity due to college enrollment commencing in just 9 days! Yes, the excuse of full-time education has saved me from the anxiety pit that is the DWP. Hallelujah. Let’s just hope that in two years time, when I leave college, I won’t be heading straight back to the Jobcentre to begin this farce all over again.

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