Taking the Mick

An exhausting week, all I can face today is pottering around, writing and hopefully watching Palace beat Watford on a live internet stream later.  And a 3 day week to look forward to as I’m using up what’s left of my annual leave.

Are the best things in life free?  Maybe not for some.  I once (1990-91) completed what was called The Counselling Intensive course at City University. I was working at a small care home in south London and Bernadette and Karen had preceded me on this course and it came recommended.  I went along for the interview and the course leader, a middle aged bald man called Dave took me and two others across the road into the square and we sat on a bench.  ‘Why do you want to do this course?’ he asked us all.  I explained how I’d been doing a 10 week course in speaking and listening and had come to the realisation that I was quite good at listening already.  But the speaking was the problem.  Dave nodded as I was speaking.  A place on the course was mine.

So one day a week for one academic year I attended the site near Sadlers Wells Theatre south of Islington along with 59 others.  There was no structure to the course.  We all sat on bean bags in a huge hall and fought for space to speak.  This disturbed some of our number who were hoping for a more traditional type of course.  And they left in the first month when they realised that any structure would come from ideas adopted by the students themselves.  We organised ourselves into support groups and throughout the year we worked in small groups as well as all together.  We formed a  mens groups and a black group, both of which I joined and was welcomed to.  I argued that for me black was a political term and I shared some (not all) experiences and feelings that arose out of being a second generation immigrant.

One week we were doing a workshop on money.  During the tea break Dave asked a group if anyone had a fiver.  I emptied my wallet and gave it to him.  I had a feeling I wouldn’t see it again.  Except I did.  During the workshop a short play was enacted about the power of money and during it Dave took out my fiver and set light to it.


In a tea break afterwards some students were saying how upset they were by this action.  I just kept a straight face about my contribution to this drama.

Most frustrating period of the week?  Working late whilst hanging on the phone to the Universal Credit team one evening.  I get cut off from the first call.  The second time someone is really nice and apologetic but can’t be helpful as I’ve got the wrong number. The third time after 20 minutes my phone dies before my carer can find an Android charger.

Whilst eating dinner earlier this week the glass panel in the bottom oven decided to shatter into a million pieces.  Goodbye to the apple crumble.  The oven is 15 months old and the guarantee is 12 months.  A call to Hotpoint and they offer to send someone for £150 to fix it.  Despite offering free parts.  Which they won’t just send to you so you pay for the privilege of them sending someone round.  I contacted John Lewis where I’d purchased it and they have agreed to cover the cost.  So the customer service of the week award goes to the John Lewis Partnership.

Greedy person of the year?  I can’t choose between Mike Ashley, owner of Sports Direct, Phillip Green, who sold BHS for a quid after taking a couple of hundred million out of the business, or George Osborne.


What to make of Gorgeous Geroge?  It was he who forced Iain Duncan Smith, the Minister for Work and Pensions to cut £30 a week from the benefits of the disabled, which is being introduced next month.  He is now doing three jobs.   Representing 70,000 or so people in his Cheshire constituency and being paid a fortune as a director of a bank clearly wasn’t enough for him.  He is now, with no journalistic experience, the editor of a newspaper.

Earlier in the week the government changed it’s mind about increasing national insurance payments for the self employed.  They were proposed partly in order to fund additional money for social care services.  I can see a problem looming, where will they find the money for this now?


Things I recommend; calling the DWP in the morning not at the end of the working day.




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