Sunday, 20 January 2013

Minding my ps and qs

Disc of Fire
Funny how I don't swear in front of my father. I have sworn in my mother's presence, but not very often; hardly ever more than a bloody or two - perhaps the odd bugger - and almost always felt awkward once I did so. Especially that time I said 'cunt' as an experiment. Having been informed that there is a new audience for this drivel, I will ensure that I display more caution with my language in future writings.

Just returned from a very brief trip to Oswestry, cut short by a combination of snow (which could possibly have prevented us travelling, and which would certainly have meant staring out of a Morda window for a day. Not really recommended) and a rotten head cold (now thankfully on its way out) which has left me with a red raw nostril and a sore eye. The bracing walk to the top of the hill fort on Wednesday morning may not have helped much, even though I am skeptical about cold causing colds. Anyway, as often happens, Oswestry always brings home to me the true brutality of the current political dogma.

I pointed out in a Guardian CiF article once that the town (and I do realise it's not the only place in the country suffering) is an economic basket case. Certainly, recent unhappy events in the retail cursed earth cannot have helped the situation much. Some people I know are currently availing themselves of whatever they are deciding to call sickness benefit these days (DLA, ESA, NFI... Who knows?) and it is salutary indeed to hear them talk about the risk of being filmed by the DWP walking up a hill, which would mean instant loss of the payment because it doesn't meet the criteria of not being able to walk more than 50 metres. My Dad believes that certain pubs are full of the unemployed, who somehow manage to stay in them all day despite only bringing home £45 a week. He may be right, but I think I might end up that way myself if faced with the alternative of watching daytime telly and waiting for signing day to come around.

In addition to that disgraceful state of affairs, I hear that online activity on the new DWP Universal Jobmatch website is now monitored by staff. Failure to conduct enough job searches leads to sanctions of one sort or another, ultimately I suppose leading to the 156 week ban recently introduced. Now, I don't agree that this kind of thing is in any way defensible even in a vibrant job market. The way things are - especially in Oswestry - it is no less than inhuman. Surely there must be some human rights or privacy legislation which can prevent this? How little dignity do you want people to have? All in all it was a rather depressing return to the old haunts, and gave me much food for thought.

To cheer myself up, a routine and slightly disappointing easy win over Fulham after Stoke beat Palace to face us in the next round of the FA Cup. Then it's on to 'Arry's lads at Fortress Loftus Road. No disrespect, but I don't think we'll be feeling too much pressure in these matches. Let's just hope that (snow willing) Spurs give the Rags a good tonking to open things up a bit.

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