Scanners (not the movie)

Yet another DWP update. Not very exciting. Again, just to keep track of what is going on. As you may recall last week concluded with my being Very Confused as to exactly what the DWP wanted from me, and what my ESA status was. I had planned on going to my local Job Centre and getting sundry letters scanned and sent directly to the DWP. I wanted to do this on Monday (Yesterday) but after exhausting myself on Sunday, Monday was a ‘Horizontal’ Day – and not in a sexy, continental, 19th century way*. I went to bed early Sunday night, woke at 7am Monday, went back to sleep, woke up in the afternoon,  got up and felt very odd. Woobly in the head. I ended up having to sleep again, and on the floor until late last night. When I got back up to bed proper I could not get back to sleep due to Jiggly Leg, Tinnitus and Bastard Neck**. So Monday was a Fail. However, I managed to get to the Job Centre today. It has changed a lot since last I was there. The reception area has gone  – the space is now just clusters of desks  and screens and groups of foamy seats. There is no clear signage – I had to find a member of Security Staff to tell me where to go. I was lucky there was not a queue of people in front of me. All the desks were empty – it was about 12pm, so lunch time – and I feared a long wait. Though the wait did not happen, there was still a problem. It’s obvious that they get people like me coming in all the time to get letters etc. scanned. And it is also obvious that we come in unprepared. We may have our documents (in my case 4 medical appointment letters, 1 ENT diagnosis letter, 1 2-page Physio report with a Pain Management referral and 2 pages of Self Harm photos) but that is about all we do have. The Lady on the Phone told me to go in, and that they would know where to send the images. But this is not the case: does it go to Belfast? Does it go to Glasgow? Which department does it go to – New Claims? Well, we decided New Claims (ESA) Belfast. However, the scanning could not be done there and then: there were a stack of documents that needed to be scanned. Could I leave them and come back later? No. I would have to come tomorrow. I did not want to leave my documents – I had taken photocopies of them before I went, but I need some of the appointment letters in the next weeks – I really don’t want anything to happen to them. The very nice lady who dealt with me (and who seemed to be the only member of staff present excluding security) could not give me a receipt for my documents. They were put in a clear plastic wallet and piled up. I have no proof that I gave them in to the Job Centre but this post – my word. I find it horrible that I have to think like this. Horrible that I am having to be so cautious and suspicious. But I am. I have had such harrowing and confusing experiences with the DWP that I don’t trust them with my letters – the proof of my situation. I am very lucky – my Dad used to work from home, so we have a photocopier. It’s an annoying machine, but vital for this type of thing. If I did not have one, I would photograph my letters, but if anything did happen to the originals, this would not be much use in the future – for my actual appointments. I don’t trust the DWP to be fair. The fact that I got an E-Mail on Thursday telling me I had the ESA benefit, but a Text on Friday giving me a message about a Fit-Note they already have makes me conscious of, if nothing else, potential cock-up on their side. Theoretically, E-Mails and Texts are more direct and efficient than letters – particularly the automated letters the DWP so commonly send. But if the E-Mails and Texts are just as standardised, general and automated as the letters they replace, they are no more efficient, and the system is just as susceptible to mix up and confusion as it ever was.

I am hoping, really hoping, that I shall return to the Job Centre on Wednesday, and pick up my letters. That I will get some confirmation that the DWP have received the scans. And that, soon, I shall get some money. This is the first time I have mentioned receiving the money (I think) . As stated before, my Dad supports me. The last time I was awarded a benefit (many years ago) the next working day after I was informed, money was in my bank. And very grateful I was. This time has not been the same. I got the confirmation E-Mail last Thursday, and so far (4 working days) I have received nothing. Usually, this would not be a problem. But this month has had extra expenses – I have had to replace underwear and tights. Being tall, I can’t buy my tights cheaply – I have to buy them in a special shop and they cost £6 for 3 pairs. My underwear was £7 for 5 pairs. I know, so high end – combined they equal 4 or 5 cups of coffee from a chain. However, this extra expense has made a dent – I currently have 30p in my bank. I have an overdraft facility, but I have not used that in over a decade. I truly hope the benefit award given me last Thursday will be confirmed: I don’t want to ask my Dad for money for July, when I told him that this would not be necessary. We are facing potentially difficult times*** and I don’t want to rock the boat.

*’Grande horizontale’ was the title given (in French) to high end call girls – Courtesans. I am ‘grande’ (being a large lass) but not in the French sense of status – great or high. Far from it. I would be a rubbish Courtesan – being as elegant as an elephant on rollerskates. Though I do have the pale complexion and dark rings round my eyes of someone with Consumption – associated with Courtesans in the modern mind via the story of the La Dame aux Camelias and La Traviata – the story of Marie Duplessis .

**’Jiggly Leg ‘- the skin on my legs gets super sensitive and they jolt around until comfy. The knees are particularly bad. Tinnitus- the ringing in my ears seems to drown me. ‘Bastard Neck’ – Torticollis, a hot, tight throb on the left side of my neck going into my shoulder. So powerful that even if I lie on my back my neck won’t relax.

*** My neighbour died last week, and we have her funeral next Thursday. This Thursday we are having shelving and other things fitted in the house. Next Wednesday my Dad has to attend a Cancer Clinic for a Prostate check. 5 years ago he had pre-Cancerous Cells, and has not been checked since.

kitty fisher hone.jpg

Kitty Fisher (1741-1767) by Nathaniel Hone, Oil on Canvas, 1765. National Portrait Gallery, London. Image Copyright belongs to the NPG.

Kitty Fisher was a famous Courtesan in 18th Century London.She was witty, audacious and glamorous. She sat to Joshua Reynolds repeatedly and her portrait in print form was much sought after. Casanova wrote that she ate a 1000 guinea note in a sandwich. This is a favourite image of her for me, because I like the visual reference to her name  in the cat fishing in the bowl and her very direct gaze.

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