Record of Rage, Volume 6

After enduring a morning that can only be described as being very Crilly, and by Crilly I mean farcical, and crap, I feel compelled to pen my first Record of Rage of the year. The first four combined have all contributed to this morning’s anger. The fifth is just an ongoing annoyance. I am not a happy bunny.

Cash machines that charge you for taking your money out

I find it outrageous that you can be charged for withdrawing your own hard-earned cash. I had a tenner in my account. The majority of cash machines on my route to work charge 18.5% of that amount just to get to said tenner. Naturally the first free one I selected was only dispensing twenty pound notes. Kill me now.

All beauty products running out at the same time

My foundation, eyeliner, moisturiser and dry shampoo have all run out on the same day. I also nearly stabbed myself in the hand trying to cut open the tube of foundation with nail scissors, in an attempt to get to the very last dregs. I am fuming – it costs a lot of money to look this average.

The shop over the road from my work

It sells bugger all apart from out of date Fruit Salad bars.

People who talk for the sake of it

You know the type. Rather than existing in comfortable silence, they feel the need to fill the void with meaningless chatter. These people will also reply to a text that is quite clearly a conversation ender in a vain attempt to continue communication even though it’s obvious you don’t want to. Please, I beg you – be quiet.

Wacky tableware

The current craze for serving food and drink on or in items other than a plate, bowl or glass makes me see red. I’d like my drink in a glass, not a jam jar, and my food on a plate, not on a slab of wood or Frisbee. Thanking you in advance.

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January only has 17 days in it, right?

I feel the need to come clean to you, my dear blog readers. In news that will come as a shock to precisely no one, I am going to have an alcoholic beverage tonight and I am going to enjoy it. Sorry.

Come to think of it, I’d failed by the 9th; a trip to visit my friend Helen and her beautiful baby Katie started with Helen offering me a drink on arrival. I protested “But I’m doing dry Jan…oh go on then.” As you can see, my willpower isn’t the best.

I’m consoling myself with the knowledge that a. I have drunk far less than I usually would have done three weekends into the month and b. white wine just tastes so good, so it’d be rude not to. I feel guilty now. But I’m predicting that this will disappear two glasses in.

Cheers y’all!

Channel 4’s Benefits Street made my blood boil

So, I watched a lot of television last night. We started off with University Challenge (I only got one question right; Mad Tam got four; David smashed it – fair play to the lad), then on to Celebrity Big Brother (half of them are sex-crazed; the rest are dull; Lee Ryan is in a criminally daft class of his own, and you know it’s bad when Liz Jones is coming across as one of calmer members of the group), and I finished up with Kerry Katona’s Channel 5 documentary, My Secret Past, about dealing with her bipolar disorder – very moving and well worth a watch.

However, the programme that really grabbed my attention was Channel 4’s Benefits Street, billed as a look at the reality of life on benefits, which focused on James Turner Street, a road in the Winson Green area of Birmingham where 90% of its inhabitants are on benefits.

I was appalled, frankly, by the whole thing – I haven’t watched such a manipulative piece of television in a long, long time. It was exploitative too – needless to say, the people featured on the programme have spoken of their anger at being misled about the objective of the series, and their concern about online death threats they’ve received. I half expected David Cameron’s name to be featured as an executive producer in the closing credits, such was the overwhelming stench of Tory propaganda around it. At a time when such scrutiny is on the welfare system, this hugely biased series quite clearly intends to portray it in a totally negative way, and, looking with dismay at the outrage about “doleite scum” on Twitter, it’s done its job.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not naïve enough to think that there aren’t people who scrounge, who play the system, who supplement their income on benefits through criminal means, who have no intention of ever gaining employment. But to solely focus on benefit claimants like that and attempt to pass it off as the “reality” of life on benefits is so very wrong.

I’ve been on benefits before too. Benefits Street did not portray what the reality was like for me, or for other people I know who have had to claim. I was only out of work for a relatively short period of time (five months) but it was without doubt the most soul-destroying process I’ve ever had to endure and one which I hope never to have to repeat. Thankfully, I was lucky in that I had semi-decent qualifications, so found work fairly quickly, and also my family ensured that I would never go hungry or go without a roof over my head. However, I’m still, years later, suffering from the financial repercussions of being on benefits for only five months. And I’m one of the lucky ones – I’ve found work, and my family would never see me go without. What about those residing in Winson Green, which has had the highest rate of unemployment in the country for the last eight years? They’re trapped in a vicious circle and the current system is going to do nothing to change things for them.

I eagerly anticipate a series featuring people struggling to cope with the bedroom tax, or those who are sanctioned for up to three months and have to live on hardship rates due to miscommunication between Work Programmes and Job Centres, or how about long-term Incapacity Benefit claimants, who have been deemed fit for work by the infamous ATOS medicals and have to claim Job Seeker’s Allowance even though they’re clearly not capable of doing so? Sadly, I think we’ll be waiting a long time to see the other side of this particular coin represented in the media.

NO BEVS ‘TIL FEB

Yeah I know it doesn’t quite rhyme. But I’m sticking with it!

After a particularly punishing festive season for the ol’ liver, culminating in a New Year’s Eve which basically saw me refusing to leave Jenna’s house (sorry Jenna), I’ve decided to have a stab at dry January. Naturally, as my love of wine is well-documented, this declaration has been met by snorts of derision from many corners. O ye of little faith!

To be fair to all the doubters, their lack of faith is probably due to my lack of willpower (also well-documented.) However, what many people sometimes forget is that I never used to drink. (I know, I know – it’s hard to believe.) I was not a sanctimonious teetotaller then and I’m not planning on being one now. (Sidenote – surely sanctimonious teetotallers have to be amongst the most irritating creatures on the planet?) I am feeling positive, it’ll save me some pennies and, for once, I believe that my willpower will last!

Obviously I may be singing from a different hymn sheet about how easy this challenge is after a week in work dealing with people who, shall we say, test my patience. But we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

P.S I will not be counting 31st January as part of dry January. I’m out with work. Sorry.