First published Oct 19th 2010
Time limiting benefits such as Incapacity Benefit is an idea which plays well in some sectors of the press. It might seem a tempting way to 'encourage' those people represented by figures on a spreadsheet off benefits and into the workplace. But every one of those official figures stands for someone's personal history. We all enter the world naked and equal. Life however is far from equal and no-one becomes disabled in isolation, there is always a journey which takes us there, a journey which some of us start earlier in life than others. It's easy to demonise an official statistic, but incredibly difficult to condemn an individual with an all too human story to tell.
Home by Blood In The Sand
The killing stopped 10 years ago. I am stood in a shabby office, a kid in a suit speaks with me. 'You've filled the forms out wrong mate' He is maybe 19 - I see yellow and brown suits, flashes in the night sky. 'We can't pay you anything'
I walk away from the Dole office with no money. I haven't eaten for four days. Mum gives me 30 quid for food. So I take it to a bar and order a Pint and a Chaser. Biting down hard as my empty stomach objects to the Whisky I pour into it. The bile stings my throat - So I light a cigarette.
I haven't shaved since I last ate. My face is sunken and hollow. Fingers yellow. I order another round for myself and stare at a girl feeding the jukebox. She is laughing and dancing. I see white teeth flash out from burnt lips and the steel floor of a helicopter.
'What you fucking looking at?' The words slammed out with venom. A young man is standing in front of me. I focus on him now. Adrenaline surges. Voices scream 'Gas Gas Gas' My heart pounds. I go back to my drink and light another cigarette with the butt of my last one.
'Don't fucking ignore me cunt' The young man is breathing shallow. Eyes wide as he prepares for battle. 'Go home' I say. The words barely a whisper from my aching throat. He jabs a hand into my chest. I see a glass in his other. The fear erupts. Deep inside my head there is a fracture. Screaming. Blood. I am stood between two worlds.
'Fucks sake mate' A frightened man has his hands raised, the bleeding man on the floor is coughing and sobbing. I order a drink. The barmaid stares in silence so I pour it myself.
The Police stand either side of me. I am arrested. The cell walls close in as the war pours out. Doctors arrive. I am naked and screaming. Inside my mind I try to stem the memories, like a child protecting his sand castle against the tide. Mum sits at the end of my Hospital bed. She is crying. Dad holds her hand as I stare at the wall. I close my eyes and the dead wave at me.