Monthly Archives: March 2015

Kill the Poor

Who’s got two thumbs and watches tons of poornography? This guy! No, I haven’t made a typographical error, I meant to say that. What is it? It’s a word I made up to describe television shows including but not limited to: Benefits Britain: Life on the Dole, BritaIMG_3533in’s Benefits Tenants, Benefits Street and Benefits Estate. Others have called it Poverty Porn but I believe mine is better, even if it does require a little more explanation than Poverty Porn. To avoid confusion, emphasise the oo, Poooornography. I will let you practice saying it out loud a few times now so you can tell your friends about it later.

I watch a lot of poornography. There’s an influx of it lately because we are supposed to hate them for stealing all the money and living the Life of Riley while we all slug away on zero hour contracts for a pittance until we’re eighty years old. Well, you do anyway, as I am temporarily unemployed. I’m still allowed to feel superior, though, because I’m not Claiming Taxpayers’ Money. Only my mum’s. However, I don’t watch them to feel superior. I like to have the television on all the time, so there’s noise. It helps because sometimes, as you’re job hunting, you may think you value your happiness too much to apply for an outbound sales job in a call centre; but when you see the abject poverty in which some people live you feel like you should probably just do anything and be grateful for it and all.

I wonder why people think they’re living the Life of Riley when it always looks like they’re having a terrible time. It isn’t fun to not have a job. You look at things and you think, Ooh that’s nice, and that’s the part where you’d normally buy the thing but you can’t because you have to buy food instead. You apply for jobs and more often than not you don’t even hear anything back. It is a bit like screaming into an abyss, if you can find one. It is thankless. Interviews aren’t fun at all. And afterwards they tell you that you are the Reserve Candidate, Well done! But this is a bit rubbish to be honest and you think it would be good if the other person could get abducted by aliens or win the lottery. Then you think well if we’re wishing for people to win the lottery why don’t we wish to win it ourselves? You probably didn’t think that right away because your dreams have gone smaller because getting even an entry level office job seems so far away.

It is important to keep a routine. This is where many people will struggle. Do not sleep in, you must get out of bed and say, Today is going to be an Okay day! Remember that daytime television is a sinkhole. They will distract you with people who say Silly Things to get you wound up. Don’t let them derail you, instead look at all the jobs you could do. You might start to feel a bit, What is the point? and do a lot of big sighs, but try to hold yourself up like you are the person you always wanted to be because the Fuck Its aren’t conducive to job-getting.

When things seem unfair it is because they often are. If you think about it too much you might feel crushed by the weight of the unfairness and stay in your pyjamas all day eating biscuits, I wouldn’t blame you. Best not to think about it at all, if you can help it. Just put your head down and write another cover letter. Say, This could be the one! before you send it off and imagine yourself walking from the train station in the morning with a Brand Name coffee in your hand and a nice suit from Next. Try not to think about how Next won’t pay a living wage, it will depress you again.

Appreciate the things you’d miss if you were at work. Take an afternoon walk and say Hello to the other people on their afternoon walk. Pay attention to the way everything looks on a Tuesday afternoon so you can think of it when you can’t see it any more. Watch your cats sunbathing in the neighbour’s garden and break up a fight between two magpies on the street. Save a dog from running into the road and imagine your unemployment has a Purpose because you’ve watched too many films.

Do things you Love. Do writing. Do painting. Do exercise. You might forget what you like about yourself if you don’t. Try to imagine you are the beginning of your movie, the bit where everything is bad, and you have to have this bit so your character is Relatable. Then imagine the rest of your movie, when your book is published to much acclaim and your boyfriend Ryan Gosling is on about what an inspiration you are. Smile to yourself. He is handsome.


When my friends first said they were pregnant my first thought was, On purpose? because I am still eighteen, I think, before I remember I’m more like thirty. They are my friends, so I decide I’ll try to bond with this baby, to start off on the right foot. I knit her a Thing but she doesn’t know what Things are yet so it’s hard to tell if I’ve made a positive impact.

When I see them – babies – all over Facebook, I often wish they were cats. This is when I think I might be broken, when I don’t want to hold them or create one of my own. There’s not the longing or the pull in my chest I get when I look at a St. Bernard puppy or double bacon cheeseburger. Instead there’s a dull acknowledgment, Yes there is a baby. I robotically click Like in case someone notices I never clicked Like and look at me with accusing eyes, You are broken, Why don’t you Like my baby? They probably won’t notice yet though. Not for a few years. Not until ten years when they see my Facebook and the pictures of cats and wonder if I was unable to have children or, worse, I did not want them.

Perhaps I only think people wonder these things because of the two times I’ve heard people wonder them. Once, after a woman told us she did not have babies and would never want them, the two girls I was with said it was the saddest thing they’d ever heard. Another time, a different person was aghast when I said I didn’t think I wanted a child. Aghast, hand on chest in shock, mouth in an aghast O. They said, But if you don’t have a child there will be something missing from your life. I’d feel sorry for you, they said.

Don’t feel sorry for me, I thought, because I hate getting up early in the morning and children always do things like that. I like to have naps and go to the cinema on a whim. Children are difficult to talk to and when they are around you have to talk to them, you have to say, You okay there? and smile and nod because they stare at you and you can’t tell what they are thinking. Two times, children have remarked osquirrelbuttn my big nose. Rather than find this charming I only think it is exceptionally rude and want to say, Well what about your weird shaped head? Or something. It is tiring. Talking to them is hard and explaining things is boring. They haven’t seen Breaking Bad and I am only vaguely familiar with Peppa Pig. It is restricting.

Children are difficult, babies are troubling. They are so delicate and tiny but when someone makes you hold one they are squirming oblongs of muscle. What if it wriggles from my grasp. What if I don’t hold it properly and the head falls back and it’s like The Elephant Man. Then there is the noise. They are like little trumpets made of meat. It hurts my ears and in cafes I fight the urge to cover my ears with my hands and scream back because it hurts. They can’t help this and I don’t hold it against them. I understand how it is, but my hearing is sensitive and to be fair that is not something I can help either.

I’m not broken. I can see they are cute, with very tiny fingers and way too big eyes. It is funny when they fart. But I don’t have the pull in my chest like I do when I see pictures of Disney World or a good corner sofa.

I wish I did feel the pull. Perhaps it will happen one day like it does on the TV. Where you, the broken woman, encounter a person in labour somewhere inappropriate, like a bus station. And at first you think, Blimey I wish I wasn’t here. The birth is difficult and when the baby comes out it’s silent and there’s an awful few seconds but then the Meat Trumpet sounds and you’re so relieved. You look down at the baby in your arms and smile and nod. You don’t need to say anything because the other person knows that your tough exterior has been penetrated by this miracle of life. The sirens are audible now – bloody hell ambulance, good timing! – and this means you don’t need a proper dialogue with the woman, you just hand her the baby and wipe your hands on your jeans because they’re probably a little gross.

I hope this happens to me. Everyone looks so happy. I hope that if this doesn’t happen to me that I will find the other thing that makes me happy and when people see my photographs they won’t think, I feel sorry for her because she has no baby. I hope they just feel happy I am happy, while I feel happy they are happy, and click Like.