Happy New Year

12/31/2007 03:32:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 11 Comments

After Ziggy and Zelda left last night I lay, comfortable and slightly stoned on my sofa watching the Christmas tree lights twinkle, I thought back to this time last year. Things couldn’t have been more different then.

I was ill all through last Christmas, one bug after another ensuring I missed the whole of Christmas and New Year. Still, not as bad as the previous year that involved out of hours GP’s for antibiotics, or the year before that which was highlighted by A&E on Boxing Day. This year has been wonderful. I’m incredibly grateful.

Christmas Eve was the time as friends we had planned to meet at Jen and Peter’s to eat and exchange gifts. Toes was to drive, giving Fruitrock and I a lift, but had a hissy fit shortly before we were all due to leave, telling Fruitrock to go without him, which she and I did, of course to receive a phone call from Toes about 20 minutes later wound up to the point of sobbing when he found out we’d taken him at his word and gone anyway. Despite Toes efforts to wind himself and everyone else up we all had a lovely, if brief time before leaving so Fruitrock could drive Kate home. We had driven past beautiful old Georgian buildings set in wide roads, chatting idly about how life might have been in the days they had been built, once so proud and strong, now so run down and dilapidated, some say deliberately so, engineered both by owners and government to enable the destruction of these glorious, strong homes for the more profitable, weak and ugly areas of ‘urban regeneration’. Once into the hideous regenerated areas with nothing to look at and certainly no room for children to play out of the darkness we saw this house, incongruous amongst the dismal darkness.

We got out of the car to take photos, laughing, obviously too loudly, despite the relatively early hour, as the householders came outside, we apologised and wished them a Happy Christmas, putting some change into the charity boxes and hurrying somewhat nervously back into the car, conscious we were in a very rough part of town, and being watched by other hidden eyes. Fruitrock drove away quickly, doors locked, on through increasingly dank and deserted streets, as we tried to find our way through the city and out the other side to the jarring contrast of the picture postcard country village Kate lives in with her parents.

It took less time to drive home, both Fruitrock and I being more confident of the navigation. Once back we chatted about the earlier row with Toes whilst Fruitrock helped me to prepare the few bits of food for the following day that I’d not been able to buy ready chopped or peeled before she returned to her parents.

Christmas day was equally enjoyable. I’d invited Geordie for dinner as he was also alone, on the grounds that he was my kitchen bitch. We were joined by Fruitrock in the morning, and later Zelda and Ziggy in the afternoon, which was a relief as I couldn’t have coped an entire day with Geordie’s bitterness. Despite that, and his being the primary source of my upset and paranoia over the Captain, it really was a fantastic day.

On Boxing Day I went to dinner at a neighbour’s house. This neighbour is in her 70’s, but far sprightlier than I, and had her son, who is no longer her son but her daughter staying with her through the holiday period. It certainly made for an interesting occasion! Her son’s sex change, from male to female has not been successful and has resulted in all sorts of physical problems, quite apart from the psychological issues and devastation to the entire family, his ex wife and children sadly refuse to have anything to do with him.

The following day saw The Captain back from his travels. He was on the phone almost immediately he stepped off the plane, unfortunately I was still asleep. With my phone on silent. Not the best start after the communication problems we’d had last time. I’d sent texts thinking he’d get them before he left the UK. He didn’t. He sent emails to an address I didn’t think to check. Both of us thinking for several days the other had changed their mind. Happily I woke up before too long, and was able to reassure him I hadn’t been ignoring his calls. We had enough time together for me to realise both that I’ve finally found the man who’ll dance with me in my own living room. And that I can’t dance. He’s gone again now, to dangerous places, to do frightening things. Once again we lost ourselves in each other's company, although we did make time to talk practicalities, but I’m still not sure what scares me the most, him being real, or not. He’s as though someone crawled into my head and found all those elements of my perfect man, putting them all into him. I suspect my lack of self esteem needs to think he couldn’t possibly be true.

This New Year I plan no resolutions, just to carry on trying to mend my life. 2007 for all it's difficulties, for me has been overall an incredibly happy year, a time when hard work has started to pay off. My hope's for 2008 are simply that it should continue. I wish the same to you all.


Perfectly Paranoid

12/26/2007 02:46:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 12 Comments

I know myself well enough to know that over analysing things is my worst fault. Besides, even if I wasn't self aware and honest enough to realise that, the blog might have been a slight indication, followed by all of my friends pointing said over analysis out to me. On a regular basis. Usually with glee. Occasionally with irritation. Or with a bit of false information thrown in for good measure. Just to see where I'll go with it. And how long they can keep a straight face at my increasingly panic stricken distress. Gullibility being my second worst fault. Obviously. The two do not make ideal bed fellows.

Which is why I'm currently a tad stressed. A bit paranoid maybe. A lot paranoid even. It's this guy. The Captain. When isn't it? A guy that is. Despite being known for my over analysis and gullibility, laughably I'm known as the sensible 'go to' friend the rest of the time, so of course it's a man. Obviously I'm only paranoid because I really like him. If I wasn't that interested, I wouldn't have given him enough thought to be paranoid, like er, the 3 others currently lurking in the background I can dredge up if I really put my mind to it. At least one of whom has contributed to my current paranoia. Forget Bridget Jones, she to my mind was but a pale imitation of the levels of hysteria to which a woman can truly hype herself up to when really keen on a man. And stupid enough to not only take advice on the subject from her friends, but ex boyfriends and erm, not exactly ex boyfriends, but not exactly current ones either. I have already admitted my stupidity here, so before anyone goes too overboard in the comments, please remember I've also admitted to being gullible and therefore will believe whatever you say.

So why the paranoia? Well, leaving aside the over analysis and worrying lack of self esteem (mine, not his) this is all stemming from varying opinions of friends.
Fruitrock 'he's far too good looking to be accessible, forget about him, and go with Toe's colleague instead' (referring to Tall Time)
Geordie 'he's married you know. I can feel it in me water.'
Roland 'sex. He just wants a shag. Only I love you really. No, I will not police check him for you. It's immoral. Are you sure you won't suck my cock?'
Ziggy 'haha, he's a mercenary. Get him to give me a job'
Zelda 'stop making her paranoid you horrible lot. Don't listen them, besides, have you seen him? Bugger what he might be, just fuck him'

Once the paranoia had reached it's full height, I stopped, calmed myself, and realised that this was all about other people's agenda's, nothing to do with mine. Me, I was scared of something entirely different. That this one might just be for real. Who he says he is. And that truly is the most frightening thought of all.


Work's night out

12/18/2007 02:03:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 9 Comments

  • Rule No. 1 :What happens on your best friend's Christmas work night out stays on the night out.
  • Rule No. 2:If behaviour on said night is so bad it forces others to use you as a human shield it shall leave Rule No.1 null and void.
  • Rule No. 3 If using a pole/wall/person to lean on for support to try and dance others will think you are something you are not. Particularly when combined with bendy joints. Probably a pole dancer. Yes, even after multiple falls, dislocations and the odd breathing problem.
  • Rule No. 4. Do not, under any circumstances experience any condition that may require you to attend a hospital in the days subsequent to said nights out.
Recently (date fudged to protect the not so innocent) I attended the social event of the year. Or not. Toe's work night out. Debauched carnage. I attended the 'after party' last year where I first met Roland...he was escaping in fear for his life chased by several cougars who not long after ended up semi conscious on the floor exposing themselves for all to see. One of whom picked herself up, got a taxi back to her car and drove herself home. Why? Well she needed to be on shift a few hours later of course! With that in mind I thought I was prepared for this year. Stupid, ridiculous, idiotic, reckless thought.

It started quite calmly, as these things do. Bad location, worse music. Not even the kind of cheesy pop that gets everyone up and dancing, the kind that somehow manages to clear the dancefloor. Still, the DJ was a nice guy. Married to one of Toes colleagues. It didn't take Toes long to try and 'help', but it was past that really. Still, after an hour or so and enough booze it didn't seem to matter too much. For some at least.

The true horror of the sight of an insane, drunken, late middle aged, overweight woman, lacking most of her teeth attaching herself with a vice like grip to the cock of whichever poor man had failed to hide in time and attempting to drag him on to the dance floor will forever remain burnt into my brain. Unfortunately. Worse still that seemed to set off some of the other women into a penis grabbing frenzy, hyped up probably by the smell of fear or perhaps by the panic in the men's eyes, and if unable to reach said appendages they responded by drunkenly waving around their little fingers...y'know, as if the men were the ones somehow failing to make the grade. Which, unsurprisingly is how I ended up a human shield. Toes and his mates very quickly figured out if they jammed as many of themselves into a tiny love seat as possible and draped me across themselves the women wouldn't be able to reach any part of them, and I will be forever grateful they had no interest in me. The women that is. The men were a different story.

If at all possible, can I recommend not dislocating anything at a party full of drunk medical staff. Oh, and definitely don't dislocate anything in your throat that might cause breathing problems. The drunken gleam in the eye of male nurses as they get excited and think they might get to do all manner of disturbing things to you is more frightening than scary middle aged cock grabbers. Particularly when mention of medical kits is made. Although I suppose that could well depend on your perspective. Not being either scary, late middle aged and lacking of teeth or possessed of a cock. Though the later might be interesting, unlike this blog. Anymore. If ever.

Back on subject. As I say, do try to avoid dislocations around drunk people who happen to be medical staff in their other lives. Whilst being a human shield Toes reached across me and his arm rested across my neck. Of course I dislocated. Something. Thyroid maybe. Possibly larynx again. Toes didn't think so, he said last time he could see how far it came out the side of my neck before it went back in. I think it probably was, just not with the same force, so not the same level of muscle spasm in response. Toes' reaction was immediate though. He must've felt it go. I wasn't too bothered. Could breathe but not speak immediately. Just couldn't make any sound for a moment or two. I could feel some spasming which was stopping me breathing but it wasn't lasting more than 20 seconds or so. Nothing to worry about. We went to get some fresh air, and I realised that I was generally having one of my spaz attacks by this point. Legs going like Bambi on acid as my hips flicked in and out and knees joining in the fun. Although I'd only danced to the odd track earlier and I had either leant up against a pole (literally) or been holding on to someone I knew at the time I was taking the piss out of myself and this was the response. My body had just had enough and didn't want to work anymore.

Fortunately Toes and his friends were looking for any excuse to get out of there so we sat in on a sofa by an open door where all the smokers were hanging out so I could let my breathing settle and Toes and his mates could make disturbing comments about medical equipment and cars. Fortunately I was the only one driving. 10 minutes and glass of water later all was fine but it was pretty obvious I wasn't going to be doing much supporting myself, my hips were a mess. Toes, having made sure I was ok went off to invite people back to his place, and after falling over as I tried to get up, one of his friends Tall Tim carried me outside and lay me down on a picnic bench where he gave me a hand put my hips back in, which whilst sounding potentially kinky, wasn't.

We left about half an hour later, my legs still doing the Bambi trick, but life is unsurprisingly much easier when you have 5 men with you all happy to carry you around. If only.....but no, neither the DWP or the 5 men would go for that one. More's the pity.

The 'after party' turned out to be the 5 men and me. You'll be pleased to hear I managed to cope with such an arduous task though. I fell over multiple times until I gave up on the idea of walking all together, lay on the lounge floor and wrapped my legs behind my head in an attempt to get my hips into their sockets. The men, in time honoured fashion, drank, indulged (not in me you filthy minded lot!) and carried on playing the far more interesting Nintendo wii all night until the first of them had to leave to start a shift the next morning.


Amazing Cancer Curing Water!!!

12/15/2007 05:14:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 6 Comments

Yesterday when I went to see Toes he was drinking water from a glass bottle. Nothing unusual in that. I drink water all the time, very rarely do I drink anything else, perhaps some fruit juice, although not from a bottle, but that's not very interesting. Not like water that can cure cancer. Now that's pretty amazing I think you'll agree, and that's what Toes told me he was drinking. I was amazed. My friend Toes had the cure for cancer in his hand! We could make a fortune. All we had to do was the same cunning trick I perform at home on a daily basis to drink my water easily. Fill up the bottles from the tap. Perhaps put them in the fridge even for that nice, icy cold refreshing, 'corpy pop' taste.

Toes however was serious. He insists he is drinking water that will at the very least prevent, if not all together cure cancer. Toes if anyone is new to this blog is a staff nurse with 5+ years experience. He did not take my laughing so hard at the cancer curing water that I had a raggy doll moment
ending up on the floor for a good half hour or so too well. I had to suggest a trip to Woolworths to stop the discussion, or rather argument about the water’s complete inability to cure cancer raging all afternoon. We know how to live the high life. Oh yes.

Later, after Woolworths, and diversion to Tesco as Woolworths hadn’t stocked the Christmas tree lights we’d all been after (but did do a fine line in crappy children’s toys of which Toes bought many) we ended back at Toes place for dinner, joined by Fruitrock and another colleague of Toes, Tall Tim who I’d met at Toes Christmas night out. The debate about the cancer curing water sprang back into life.

Sprang back into life is perhaps not a good way to describe my laughing so hard that I do the whole Bambi on acid thing whilst my hips flick in and out so hard I collapse on the floor in a big heap laughing even more at myself. It appears to be an amusing sight as it makes everyone else laugh, thus sending me into further howls of laughter and less and less able to control my body. Fortunately it’s quite a useful way of distracting from arguments. Tall Tim was equally amused by the claims of the cancer curing water. Disregarding the multiple raggy doll experiences, even through the laughter Tall Tim, Fruitrock and I were a little hard pushed to come up with why the water Toes was drinking would never, not under any circumstances cure cancer, other than the fact its water. My old chemistry teacher would finally be proud of me.

It’s OK though. Today I have been sent multiple articles by Toes to ‘prove’ the water can indeed cure cancer. I personally don't need to read them to know that cancer cannot be cured by water, bottled or otherwise. However, I am looking forward to spending another hour or so on the floor of his house paralysed by laughter when round 3 of the amazing cancer curing water debate gets going.


Page 18 Other Information. IB50 Form

12/14/2007 10:47:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 16 Comments

Updated: In the interests of clarity, with one or two edits to remove swear words etc, this was the actual answer I provided on Page 18, other information of my IB50 form. The form had to be returned today, so I will have no idea throughout all of the Christmas and New Year period whether or not this review will mean my claim will be denied.

I would give anything really I would, for things to be different. You see, if things were different I wouldn't have to fill out this form telling you in minute and trivial detail how I walk, how I lift, how I sit, how I stand, how I think, how I feel, and even how I piss and shit, or, more precisely how I don’t. As, after all, that's all you're really interested in.

In the past few years I’ve learnt to live with my condition, an inherited genetic disorder that for reasons I’ll never know, whilst I was still just a child was said to be ‘seeking attention’ and turned usually clear sighted doctors blind. I’ve had to, there’s been no alternative. No choice. No cure for Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS), not even a treatment in sight. Just stronger and stronger pain relief, that in an ironic twist of fate doesn’t work as well as it should, and if you happen to be lucky enough to live in an area that provides it, expert physio.

Despite all that, despite the mislabelling, the trauma, their insanity and very nearly mine, somehow I’ve found a way.

I accept it now. It’s just a part of who I am. Like the brown eyes and curly hair, or being 4’8, my need to be nice to everyone, to always put myself down, or my irrational fear of spiders. It’s just another part of all the many things that go to make up me.

Except now, forced once again into filling out these forms, it’s not just one part, it’s an all consuming everything. Nothing secret, nothing sacred. Every minute detail of my life must be revealed, recorded, repeated, repeated, and repeated. And then some more, endlessly made to fit into these boxes. Humiliation at a level never quite complete. All that effort, all those things that go to make up me, a person, a life, they are not relevant here. So, really, I would give anything for things to be different.

I would give anything not to have to fill out this or any other benefit form, give anything not to have to tell you, a faceless, nameless stranger details of my life so intimate that day to day I try not to think of them myself. How from one day to the next I never know the level of disability that will greet me. Will I fall as soon as I try to get up, or will it be a little later? Will it be in public or private? If I dislocate both hip and SI joint all in one go will I lose control of my bladder, or worse my bowels? Will I have to rely on a complete stranger for assistance? If that stranger is a man, will he, like so many, take advantage of the situation to grope my tits or arse? Will he like so many think I don't realise? Worse still, will he think it doesn't matter because I'm 'just' a cripple? I never know. But now you do. In triplicate.

So really, I would give anything for things to be different. To be able to earn my own living, not to have to ask, not to have to beg. Not to be forced to tell you everything yet again.



12/11/2007 05:13:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 14 Comments

Sometimes, every so often, other people confront us with the realities of our behaviour. In the light of that, and honest spirit of this blog I have a confession to make.

Hello, my name is Bendy Girl and I'm a man'oholic. Not just any men you understand, no, a very specific type of man. Men who are 6'2, dark haired and good looking. I am a cliche. A 4'8 tall cliche. What's worse is that it took one of these men to point out said addiction to me. I am shamed.

Not enough to stop though. I'm far too addicted for that.


The Great Pretender

12/06/2007 09:38:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 18 Comments

I made it to the Post Office without incident yesterday (a minor miracle in itself) and collected the parcel containing the rabbits Zelda and I had ordered from Lovehoney at the weekend. I was amused by the constant stream of women going in to collect parcels the posties had failed to deliver for one reason or another, the thought of all these bored housewives going to collect their sex toys kept making me giggle.

I stopped giggling when I got home and managed to get the parcel open. I'd chosen the Platinum Rabbit purely because it was the only one I could see clearly marked as not containing latex (I'm too sensitive to latex to use latex gloves or condoms). This thing is huge. Significantly bigger in girth and longer than the Jessica Rabbit that Zelda had ordered. I left it stood on the table all afternoon, mocking my fear of it's size while the smaller rabbit that of course I couldn't use taunted me from it's box. Every so often I eyed it up, just to see if it was still as worryingly big as I thought it was. It was.

Zelda came round in the evening to collect her Jessica Rabbit and to watch the series finale of Heroes (was it just me, or was the ending a bit of a let down?) As soon as she arrived she tore into her rabbit, at which point the laughing started. It has a face on it. Whilst mine looked all vaguely futuristic and cool in its disturbingly large way...the Jessica was just hilarious. Party pink, stinking to high heaven of medicinal type latex, and to cap it all off, someone saw fit to try and hide the fact it's shaped like a cock, by, horror of horrors, putting a little face on it, and trying to turn the glans into hair.

Heroes over, and Zelda gone home, I decided to give 'Freddy' a go. The lounge was warm and dimly lit by fire and candlelight, so with some music and reading matter to entertain I was all set to conquer my fear of the size of this thing. Half a tube of KY later it had eaten my orgasm and left me with several tears and internal bruising and Freddy was named. Not quiet the wildly multi orgasmic screaming success I'd imagined.

The only easy bit to use on Freddy was the buttons to control the vibrations, and even then once covered in copious amounts of lube they became a bit tricky to negotiate. I do realise that I'm petite enough to make Kylie look like a strapping lass, but I can in some senses compensate for that by the sheer good fortunate (oh the irony!) of having a genetic disorder that turns me into Elasto girl. If a bit broken. Stretchy I do well. Stretch enough for Freddy. Not happening. The vibrations were so intense even on the lowest settings that it was just uncomfortable, and eventually I worked out that the shaft needed to be, shall we say less constrained to do it's rotating thing.

This morning both my hips were out, one shoulder dislocated so badly and so loudly as to startle neighbour out of the chair she was sitting in, I found tears internally as well as externally and I feel as though I've been kicked in the kidney area. Back to the drawing board. Or right now, Nabootique.


A tax too far

12/05/2007 03:17:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 6 Comments

It's neither leisure, nor luxury, when you're not able to walk properly, but thanks to EU regulations, now motorised disability scooters are to be subject to £300 import tax on top of their initial £2000 cost.

Obviously another measure designed to help us all into work.


Red warning boxes

12/04/2007 01:18:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 8 Comments

Thanks to Mary, who just let me know about the problem, I'm now aware that my hotmail account was flagged on her blog with all sorts of red warning signs and cross boxes.

This has been a problem with my incoming hotmail ever since I set up this particular account, anything I post on this blog flags up red warnings and failed delivery, but if I open it anyway, its all there. Same goes for any comments I leave on my own blog. I have no idea what the problem might be, when I go to try and check I just get messages about phishing scams and dire warnings not to register my own email as 'safe'

Blogger seems to have been playing up of late, all sorts of problems with formatting and the like, but I'd just assumed everyone had the same problem with hotmail getting upset about comments left on individual's own blogs. If anyone knows anything about this, or how to sort it out, I'd be really grateful?


12/04/2007 01:09:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 0 Comments

Aaargh. The Post Office closed at 1pm. Of course. Thankfully I rechecked the 'sorry you were out' card before I left the house.


Run rabbit, run!

12/04/2007 12:21:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 5 Comments

On Saturday, much to Ziggy's amusement, Zelda and I ordered ourselves a Rabbit each from Lovehoney. Apparently Zelda already has a rabbit but her room is such a tip she can't find it. This is to be my first rabbit, I've always found the size of them a bit intimidating previously, but desperate times call for desperate measures. My previous trusty vibe has run out of batteries and I can't open it to put new ones in. I'm sure Ziggy would rise to the occasion so to speak and offer to help me out with that task just as he does with all sorts of other things, but frankly that's just taking the piss. There are some things a girl simply can't ask her mates to do for her. Cutting up my food in public, or carrying me up and down flights of stairs I deem acceptable. Changing the batteries on my vibrator I do not.

I did check that this new one had a simple screw opening instead of some daft squeeze and pull mechanism. Being single and having to use the damn thing on myself is chore enough, having to buy a new vibrator every time it runs out of batteries is taking it to a whole new level of needing a man.

Happily lovehoney sent me an email yesterday to let me know the order had been dispatched so I was expecting the delivery. Unhappily however the postman arrived when I was in the bathroom. Of course. More irritatingly it wasn't my usual postie, who is such a star he knows to hammer loudly on the front door and wait, and wait, and a bit longer whilst I make my way to the front door. Usual postie really is such a star he'll knock loud enough to wake me up and wait while I manage to get downstairs (no easy feat that!) So now I've got to go and try and collect the parcel from the post office a couple of towns away, after I've waited the requisite amount of time for the parcel to get back there. After that I may be gone some time!


T'internet dating

12/03/2007 02:11:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 5 Comments

By my standards, this weekend has been quite the social whirl, though when I started to reflect upon it for this post I realised it was no wonder I struggle to meet attractive, available men, I just don't go anywhere to meet them. The 19 year old who's clicked yes to 'are you interested' on facebook definitely doesn't count; Ziggy being only 21, boys of that age I have offering me sex a plenty. Unfortunately (or perhaps not) the toyboy thing just doesn't do anything for me, I prefer my men to be...well, men.

Mostly I tend to socialise with my friends either in my home or in one of theirs, with occasional trips to a pub or bar thrown in, usually somewhere cheap, but nice to eat, crowded places with lots of drunk people not being the most ideal situation when you wobble like a weeble at the best of times. Toes, as previously described throws amazing house parties, but they aren't exactly regular events, which all leads me back to how difficult it is to meet people once you're past your early 20's and for whatever reasons want something more than the binge drinking scene so pervasive in northern England.

Last week, in a bizarre coincidence, I was contacted by two different men I'd 'met' the first time I tried internet dating. One who joined facebook and added me to his friends list, a bit strangely as I've never actually met him, and although once he'd managed to remind me who he was, I did recall we talked quite often and frequently over a period of time, it was 3 years ago, and I probably blocked him from my msn for some reason or other, and the other, who popped up in my msn, charmingly with a display photo of his spindly dick. Which is just what I wanted to see on a dull monday afternoon. In the rain. I did ask him why he felt the need to display his penis to all and sundry, for which he didn't seem to have much answer. I said, that as a grown woman I'd seen my fair share of cock thanks, omitting to mention most were far more attractive than his could ever hope to be, and that the cyber thing just didn't do it for me. We chatted briefly while the photo of his cock just sort of hung there, pathetically, and he went away.

So, I'm thinking about internet dating again, or I will be once I have any money, as unlike those two guys I don't really fancy trying to recycle whatever blokes are left kicking around my msn from the last time I tried. I've heard all sorts of horror stories about it, but the biggest problem I've had when trying internet dating is the sheer volume of of messages, usually falling into distinct groups
The blokes who look like and have all the charm of Jabba the Hut, who then get really nasty when sent the standard thanks but no thanks response. One such charmer sent me an email clearly designed to get in a girl's pants, that read,
'hi ...your not interested in me ?...you have not even spoken to me ...i think this is such a shallow thing ? you don"t deserve anybody ...bone head' Actually, I had a fair few along those lines, along with multiple messages from strange, very elderly American men who missed the irony and self deprecation in my profile and were keen to reassure me that my beauty meant I would find the perfect man in time, oh and if I was interested they'd be in the UK on such and such a date and would like to 'treat' me well. Yeah, seems like whatever I do to my profile a good proportion of guys think I'm an escort. Go figure.

Then in amongst all the dross, abuse, marriage offers from sub saharan Africa are the emails from the nice, decent guys that tend to get overlooked whilst dodging the abusive bullets. As I feel I've wasted my money on previous internet dating experiences sending endless polite 'sorry, not interested, good luck' emails and hiding from my pc whilst debating the need to contact the police for protection, if I'm going to spend money on internet dating again, I want to be sure I can actually get my money's worth. So to speak.

Don't get me wrong, when it actually comes to the date part, I've never had any major problems. Apart from the guy I went out for lunch with and really did have to threaten with the police if he contacted me ever again. Strange, he'd been the perfect gentleman throughout the date.

Other than that over the years, any men I've actually met have all been who they've said they are, looked pretty much like their photos, and not been hiding any major criminal convictions. For me the problem seems to lie prior to the date. After all, actually going on a date with me is an experience like no other, what with the food cutting up, lack of breathing and falling over. It takes a brave man indeed. No, where I need help and advice is earlier in the process. Ways to explain my jobless, poverty stricken, bendy cripple state would be good. Preferably before the actual date.

So, other than suggesting a 'mass' internet dating experience for the single bloggers, I'm out of ideas, and have decided to open it up to you lovely lot...........


Benefits and Work

11/30/2007 02:05:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 8 Comments

After I left a detailed comment on his blog, Jackart at a Very British Dude responded with a full post on the subject Benefits, work and incapacity, and as promised here is my response.

I'm actually in agreement with Jackart, we do have a problem with fraud in the benefits system as it stands, although I disagree with him as to the extent for disability related benefits, particularly as using the official statistics from the National Benefit Review conducted into Disability Living Allowance(DLA) in 2004, the actual fraud rate was only 0.5%.

I would also agree with Jackart that we need massive reform of the system, however that's probably where we start to disagree more fundamentally.

Jackart says that disability is in part a state of mind, citing the examples of having met below knee amputees who've run marathons and having played rugby with a man who had one arm and one leg. This unfortunate attitude is something I've experienced myself, typically only from able bodied younger men. Whilst there is a valid point about fear being one of the most disabling conditions of all, Jackart's examples just go to show the lack of understanding of the true nature of disability disaplayed by a great many people. Disability for I'd imagine the majority of people does not mean having the kind of static condition experienced by those who have a traumatic injury resulting in loss of limb or spinal cord injury. Whilst a gross generalisation, overall there is mostly continuity for people with those kind of conditions, their level of disability does not vary wildly from day to day leaving them unable to plan for anything.

I can of course only speak with any kind of authority on how my own condition Ehlers Danlos Syndrome affects me, but if nothing else my experiences have taught me that for many, no matter how strong the state of mind, or how vigorous the fight the complexity of the human body means it will continue to fail regardless of attitude, and will certainly never be capable of being neatly pushed into the kind of boxes governments are so fond of.

As part of the reform of incapacity type benefits Jackart would like to see the definition of 'cannot work' made a very tight one. I disagree, albeit reluctantly, with concerns about fraudsters slipping through, because I know it's impossible to make something as individual as disability fit a tight definition, and that in an overtight definition it will always be the genuine claimants who miss out, the fraudsters, as Clairwil has already pointed out will always be ahead of the game.So, just why is it so difficult for disabled people such as myself to manage to find and sustain paid employment?

As I mentioned in my initial comment, it is impossible to separate out welfare costs from health and social care. Currently many local authorities are so cash strapped they are rationing care, unable to provide support to those who fall outside their own definitions of either ‘critical’ or ‘substantial’. However this doesn’t mean that the person isn’t sick, vulnerable or disabled, there are those in the authorities own definitions of ‘moderate’ or 'low' risk, many of whom are still struggling with basic tasks such as washing, dressing, shopping and getting around. This is having a particular impact on those individuals like myself who were reliant on the government’s much hyped Direct Payment schemes designed to allow disabled people to purchase their own care directly and which could and should be particularly beneficial for those disabled people wanting to work as they allow the individual to employ their own Personal Assistance, but with the rationing of such care leading to widespread cuts it puts another barrier in the way to work.

As I’ve looked at previously there are also major problems with obtaining the correct, or for some, any equipment to help them perform these basic day to day tasks, even more important when care is being cut. One commenter on Jackart’s blog asked how difficult can it really be to wheel someone in to an office, then sit and type for 8 hours. Leaving aside the derogatory and disablist attitudes in the comment it does clearly illustrate the lack of understanding by many of the difficulties disabled people face in every day activities. For a start off, it’s pretty difficult to wheel anywhere if people don’t have suitable wheelchairs, and many don’t with it being standard practice for many NHS trusts not to provide appropriate powered wheelchairs for those who still have some (very limited) mobility, but are unable to self propel themselves in a manual chair. The difficulty for most disabled people however starts much earlier in the day with equipment not being provided by local authorities to assist with such basic tasks as getting out of bed, bathing, washing or dressing, or to help prepare and make food. It’s now typical in many authorities for ‘small’ equipment (ie items individually costing less than a hundred pounds or so) to have to be purchased by the individual, and for the larger items such as bath lifts to be refused on the grounds that it might infringe health and safety for the individual to use them. These of course are really cost cutting measures but it soon becomes obvious that it is neither simple, nor easy to get anywhere, and that for some, being ‘just wheeled’ would be a huge luxury. This blog post has a great explanation of the incredible difficulties faced by many disabled people in travelling to work.

Although we now have legislation supposedly to stop discrimination against disabled people, in the form of Disability Discrimination Act 1995, it is a fairly toothless act, leaving the onus on the individual disabled person to have to take the action, and to prove there has been discrimination.

In my own situation, which is probably far from unique, prior to my diagnosis of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, after I graduated I spent years working a variety of part time jobs, most of which were individually too poorly paid to even make national insurance contributions (one reason I’m not entitled to Incapacity Benefit now). I wanted to avoid the stigma of being on benefits, leaving part time work my only option partly as I wasn’t fit to work full time and partly to fit with the random and frequent nature of NHS appointments both surgical and rehabilitative. Despite applying for more jobs than I care to remember it was evident to prospective employers that there was a major problem with my health, whether or not I declared I had a disability. Out of the hundreds of jobs I did apply for I only ever obtained two interviews, one for a highly competitive graduate scheme, which during the feedback I was told by my interviewer that I’d given the best interview he’d seen that year and had been recommended for a place, but unfortunately not been successful. He urged me to reapply the following year when I had more of an idea what the situation was with my health, and whether I would need further surgery as he felt sure I would then be successful. Although I was well aware I’d been discriminated against, without a diagnosis at the time I didn’t feel able to do anything about it, and still doubt there is anything I could have done.

Eventually I was successful in getting a poorly paid, low level administrative job. I was overjoyed as it was a way in to the workplace, and unlike now I wasn’t in a situation where, living alone I have to be the sole provider. Unfortunately there were problems from the start, Access to Work did my workplace assessment almost 6 weeks after I’d started work, meaning the old folding table and someone’s discarded chair I’d been using as a temporary measure actually ended up being for months. During the assessment I was told that as they couldn’t get a chair and desk appropriate for my size I would just have to manage on the one they could order, but unfortunately by the time I became so unwell I had to leave my job some 7 months after I’d started, we were still waiting for some of the equipment Access to Work had ordered for me to turn up. As the author of this blog is now finding out this kind of delay with Access to Work is all to common.

I worked in a very isolated area leading to problems with Health and Safety from the outset. A serious dislocation whilst I was in the office alone (as was typical) led to a lengthy period of ‘medical suspension’ whilst we waited desperately for my desk and chair to be supplied by Access to Work, as on that particular occasion I’d only managed to phone for help following a period of unconsciousness alone on the office floor. My employers became understandably increasingly nervous about the risks of having me there, but were unable to find an alternative office and with the failings of Access to Work, my lack of diagnosis and problems with NHS waiting lists eventually I had become so unwell I had no choice but to leave. The most infuriating part being that 12 months later when work and I had hoped I would be well enough to go back, although I had managed to get diagnosed and start myself along the lifelong path of learning how to manage my condition, I still had not received a single one of the recommendations my specialist had insisted upon as urgent, thus pushing the burden back on to the benefits system.

That was all a few years ago now, and it’s only been in the last few months that I’ve been in a position to think more seriously about wanting to work. My GP laughs whenever I mention it to him, he thinks I should concentrate my energies on more important things, but I refuse to accept that at my age I have to spend the rest of my life on benefits because the system is so inflexible.

A few quick sums earlier showed me that I would have to earn a minimum of £700 a month just to pay rent and utilities, not including things like food, petrol, or even council tax, as to work out what that would actually be after deductions for any council tax benefit is nigh on impossible. However accepting that even working 16 hours a week would be an enormous struggle for me, and that unless I could work primarily from home, probably impossible, 16 hours a week on minimum wage of £5.52 works out to £88.32 per week, before any tax or NI deductions, £353.28 every 4 weeks (benefits calculations all being done on daily and therefore weekly rather than monthly basis) Using this rather nifty website I was able to see that at that wage I should be able to get it topped up by tax credits of approximately £77 a week (though there’s no guarantee that’s accurate, and it would certainly change to a lower amount after 12 months) which would still only leave me with around £661 every 4 weeks, give or take a few pence. I would still be entitled to some housing benefit, but it would be reduced, to an amount I wouldn’t find out until I could give specific income details to the benefits agency to do a ‘better off’ calculation, as it seems to be impossible to take the more sensible approach and find out how much someone needs to earn to meet their basic living costs.

None of this of course factors in the likelihood of Disability Living Allowance being removed for starting work, something that isn’t supposed to happen as its non means tested and intended to be for the additional costs of disability, but in practice is all too common, even when claimants are working jobs entirely in keeping with the nature of their care and mobility needs as declared to the DWP. If I were to manage to find any sort of work I could do I would be financially reliant on continuing to receive DLA, not least to provide for the additional expenses associated with having a disability.

For those like myself, disabled at a relatively very young age, currently the choice is stark and leaves me feeling deeply let down by the system. I can either sit and rot on benefits, bored, isolated, not able to access the kind of support I need; work full time, which for me sadly is not an option; or attempt to work part time whilst navigating the maze of tax credits, council tax benefits, housing benefits. Like many disabled people the future does indeed look increasingly frightening when all we can see are services being cut or removed, and the government announcing the numbers they intend to remove from Incapacity Benefits without a hint of realistic opportunity.



11/29/2007 01:08:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 6 Comments

It became more and more obvious throughout Tuesday that despite the extra steroids and diuretics she'd had in the morning at the practice, this time she wasn't going to perk back up to her usual self, and that the stress of the car journey had been unbearable for her. I phoned and left a message for my vet asking him to come out that day. I'd asked neighbour to come round earlier and help me to get her out her litter tray, and put her on the sofa where although she wasn't able to get up again, I lay with her through the afternoon and stroked her as she purred peacefully for hours.

The vet arrived not long after 7 and briefly explained he would give her two injections, one to make her sleepy and not care about anything, and then after 5 minutes o
r so a second to finish life. He asked what I wanted to do afterwards, as in did I want to keep her body, or did I want an individual cremation, but not having any garden to bury her in I asked him just to take her away. As Vet and I have known each other for many years, initially both working in the same place there wasn't a huge amount to explain, and I was very grateful for the peaceful hours I'd been able to have that afternoon to get my head around what had to be done and say goodbye.

Ziggy had come round before the Vet and came back afterwards to sit with me for a while. He arranged to work from home yesterday so I wouldn't be on my own, and arrived around midday. His being here made a real difference. Kitty #2 is like a lost soul, wandering round looking for her mum, eating very little and acting even more strangely than she usually does. We knew there was a real problem when she didn't whore herself all over Ziggy yesterday for ages until she bit him (she's got a real man obsession that cat!)


Letting Go

11/27/2007 01:34:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 5 Comments

My beloved cat is ill. The kind of ill that means trips back and forth to the vet and difficult decisions. She's an old lady now, with all the kinds of problems that old ladies tend to have, in her case a long struggle with asthma has meant treatment with steroids over the past few years to keep her breathing under control, although she never did get the hang of her inhaler...no opposable thumbs you see.
As I write this, tears running down my face she's lying down, but inside her litter tray, and although our vet instructed me to phone him first thing tomorrow morning to see how she'd been through the night, in my heart of hearts I know the time has come, if not today, tomorrow.

She wasn't even my cat originally, she was brought as a 6 week old kitten for my younger sister, but in that way that cats do, she chose to own me, and we've been inseperable since I was 16. A tiny little bundle of fur, the runt of her litter, and too young really to be parted from her mother I carried her round in my pocket to keep her warm and safe as I studied for my GCSE's, then less than a year later delivered all her four kittens by hand, alive and well despite one being a dry birth. That was the kitten we kept who also decided to own me.

She was by my side as I sat my A levels, then later my finals, there through every broken heart, every happy occasion, as I grew more unwell and struggled to come to terms with my body and world collapsing around me without explanation she was a constant presence, comforting and warm, always appearing if I was sad, seeming somehow to know.

In her youth she was a true cat, dominating the neighbourhood, hunting and bringing 'gifts' home to us, sometimes still live birds, one memorable occasion a rat almost as big as herself, and regularly seeing off foxes in protracted noisy battles in the middle of the road.

In later years as I became more physically vulnerable she took on a new role, and became as protective as any dog, sitting on the side of the bath growling at any carer she mistrusted, with uncanny instincts for getting it right, even going so far as to bite one she took particular dislike to. She was quite right to attack that woman, she always went out of her way to physically hurt me if she could, and it was the cat in the bathroom with me, yowling her warnings when that same carer left me on the bathroom floor after a fall, too busy chatting on her mobile to take any notice of what was going on.

The winter I was so ill I didn't really know who I was the cats probably helped save my life. They, but especially this one rarely left my side, always somehow knowing to lie next to my most painful joints, purring, the vibrations acting as a form of pain relief, but more importantly their body heat giving me desperately needed warmth.

Now she's dying and I feel it as acutely as any human. All I can do for her now is to try and make the right decision about when to let her go peacefully.


Brown Envelopes

11/22/2007 11:32:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 9 Comments

In a scene loaded with all the best dramatic irony the brown envelope landed on the doormat this morning.

Unlike the previous two letters from the DWP both advising me of 'urgent' changes to phone numbers, both of which caused me to dislocate my fingers trying to open them, I know is different because it is so bulky. It's an IB50 Incapacity for work form. I haven't had to fill out anything like this since the DWP sent me a letter several years ago telling me I no longer needed to send in sick notes from my GP.

I have until the week before Christmas to return it, although I of course won't find out the decision until weeks in to the New Year. I feel a bit sick, and very scared. I'm not even sure it's been sent to me correctly yet. Quite apart from being genuinely entitled to all the benefits I receive, I would give anything to be able to support myself financially by working and not to have to rely on this humiliating, degrading and terrifying system. It angers me to think of all the money this and every other government waste on so called 'welfare reforms' none of which provide any realistic opportunities to help disabled people into work.

Oh, and just in case you'd not already guessed, none of the questions on this form have altered. Those about whether you can walk more than 400m or climb a flight of stairs are still there, and there is certainly no mention of desks or mice, but then you didn't really think there would be, did you? This really is all about frightening genuine claimants into saying the wrong thing and cutting benefit rates that way.


Hunting Season

11/21/2007 04:13:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 4 Comments

I listened in horror to Radio1 on Monday as they and the rest of the BBC news media spewed forth all manner of vitriol against Incapacity Benefit claimants, who according to them are apparently all off work scrounging from your hard earned taxes for a variety of well deserved reasons such as acne, obesity or just being a bit tired. It's always nice to be publicly hated, especially when such a thing as journalistic integrity seems a thing of the past.

Clairwil has written an excellent post on the subject, so I suggest you all go there and read that before reading any further here. Go on, off you go. Then come back here and read the rest.

Right, as you all know now, to claim for Incapacity Benefit you need to be signed as unfit for work by your GP, and then, in something called the Personal Capability Assessment attain a certain amount of points to qualify, 15 for physical health problems, 10 for mental health. The All work test I'm linking you to is several years out of date, but hasn't changed that much. For interest I decided to score myself on the test again, and deliberately put myself into lower categories for many of the questions, such as this one, bending and kneeling, where of course being absurdly bendy, I can both bend and kneel, but also being absurdly unstable around the joints, can't do it, or get up again without dislocating, in my case often multiple joints. Despite my deliberate underestimating of how badly I'm affected and therefore lower points score, I still managed to end up with 99 points. Unfortunately I don't think that means I get 6.6 people's worth of Incapacity Benefit.

Activity Descriptor Points Select
6.Bending and kneeling. (a) Cannot bend to touch his knees and straighten up again. 15

(b) Cannot either, bend or kneel, or bend and kneel, as if to pick up a piece of paper from the floor and straighten up again. 15

(c) Sometimes cannot either, bend or kneel, or bend and kneel, as if to pick up a piece of paper from the floor and straighten up again. 3

(d) No problem with bending or kneeling. 0

Actually, as I've mentioned before I don't receive Incapacity Benefit, and so don't even count as one of the official statistics, like many people I instead receive Income Support. However, ignoring that and the large numbers of people like me who are not counted as part of the official statistics for Incapacity Benefit, now is a very frightening time to be genuinely sick or disabled in the UK.

As Peter Hain, the Work and Pensions Secretary announced on Monday, the old style PCA test will be replaced by a new work capability assessment along with the new Employment and Support Allowance. All of this of course was previously announced as part of the Welfare Reform Act 2007. According to Mr Hain the new test will concentrate more upon what sick and disabled people can do rather than what they cannot do, apparently abandoning tests such as being able to walk more than 400m or climb 12 steps without the aid of a bannister instead looking at issues like manual dexterity, speech, vision and hearing, as well as ability to cope under pressure and interact with other people. (source BBC news online)

Now, call me a huge cynic if you will, but that's pretty much exactly what the current PCA test looks at, with the exception of the first two questions they appear to be removing. We all know the benefits system is a contradiction in terms long overdue for reform, but really, what use is it declaring someone as fit for work if their mobility is so poor they can't actually get out of their home to to get work or move around a workplace even, and shucks, it's not like anyone's naive enough to think the government will suddenly start providing everyone who needs them with appropriate power chairs, are they?

Unless of course all this is purely to make it appear to the general public that the government is addressing the issue of welfare reform, whilst they terrify the vast majority of genuinely sick and disabled claimants, already living under difficult enough circumstances, many of whom would welcome anything that meant a realistic opportunity to work, unlike the government's much hyped New Deal for Disabled People's scheme, which as I've written about before seems nothing more than a money making exercise for those able to set themselves up as job brokers. It would, for once be nice to hear some realistic suggestions from at least once of the three main political parties, two of which are led by men with disabled children of their own. However, money and power make comfortable cushions from reality and until such time the disability charities get out of bed with the government, and politicians, regardless of allegiance wake up and realise that to effect true welfare reform they need to consult those living within the system, the disabled and chronically unwell, those able to provide some realistic solutions to the situation, I fear no licence will be needed to take aim at the most vulnerable.


It's cold outside!

11/20/2007 02:12:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 4 Comments

Winter Fuel payment is for those over 60 who receive a State Pension.

It is not available to those in receipt of even the highest levels of Disability Living Allowance, many of whom have to heat their homes all year round.

No matter how cold our furry barometers tell us our homes may be!


DLA insanity

11/13/2007 10:15:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 14 Comments

Like Louise Bolotin, the author of this rare insight into the insanity of the DLA system, I am also completely dependant on the financial security that Disability Living Allowance provides me. Unlike her however, I live alone, and depend entirely on benefits to survive, having no-one else to step in and support me so although my DLA has time left to run on it's current award, I'm permanently aware in the back of my mind that it could randomly be removed from me on the 'whim' of a decision maker, regardless of the level of my disability.

This for me is of particular relevance at the moment having strived so hard for so long to gain control over my condition and therefore improve my life. Should I inform the DWP that I have managed to 'improve' and therefore risk my entire award, which if I were to lose it would without doubt lead to a drop in benefits so drastic I would be left unable to meet basic utility bills and rent, let alone consider luxuries such as food, or should I say nothing as actually these improvements, although considerable for me, are by anyone else's standards minor and still leave me substantially disabled and genuinely entitled to the awards I've been given, if not the higher awards my GP pushed for me to be given at the time but the DWP in their typical nonsensical logic refused as they insisted the bodily functions I needed help with during the day did not exist at night.

This week saw my annual landlord safety check done by British Gas, where they come out and check all the gas appliances in the house. Whilst checking the gas hob the engineer asked if it always turned on in a particular manner, and asked to see me turn one of the rings on. I managed to do so after a couple of attempts, but only when prompted by him did I notice that as I'd turned it on, the only way I could do so had meant I'd had my fingers in the gas flames and left them there until he pointed it out.

For all the 'improvements' I think I've made, I don't think it's worth risking losing everything, including potentially my life, by informing the DWP of 'improvements' that are only improvements so they can remove benefits from the most vulnerable.


Remembrance Sunday

11/11/2007 07:16:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 4 Comments

After everyone else had gone, once again we sat and talked. Of past lives and histories, childhoods lost and things to come. Bosnia. The shadow it casts over your life. The months and months after you came back, deeply depressed, unable to function, the gradual rebuilding, again and again.

Eventually, in the small hours as I try to persuade you of the strength, the bravery it has taken for you to overcome trauma after trauma throughout your adult life I finally ask if you think any of these things could have happened to you if not for Bosnia. Surprised, you say to me 'but, of course not, it was always because of Bosnia'.

At 11am today I watched the ceremony at the Cenotaph in silence and my thoughts were with you and every other.



11/05/2007 08:41:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 6 Comments

It may only have been a week since my last post, but it's certainly been an eventful one. In chronological order;

The trip to see Big. It was lovely to see him, and after a bit of a struggle on my own unable to call for assistance as it didn't exist in the airport car park at 4.30am, things actually ran really smoothly on that front. I did think as I was left sat alone in a wheelchair next to the aeroplane on the tarmac as the man assisting me wandered off to find someone to work the lift to the plane that maybe they thought disabled people were incapable of committing crimes, or of being any kind of threat, but that would be really stupid, wouldn't it?
At the other end I could not have been more impressed with the way the assistance and services were organised, it put everything in this country to shame and just showed how good things could potentially be

Overall, things were as I expected, and had discussed with a couple of friends before I went, the make or break situation, well, for me anyway, having previously tried to end things and move on, and a part of me needed to go and see him for things to end. I don't know what he thinks, or feels, I doubt with him I ever will, which is one of the reasons it had to end for me, but unlike previous times I finally feel a readiness to move on, whatever hold he has had over me for the past three years having come to its own conclusion. I'll always care about him, always be fond of him, suspect we'll always be friends, but as we discussed whilst I was there, neither of us are the people we were when we met, and I feel like I'm about to start a new stage of my life, something I'm strangely excited about.

I got back on the thursday evening, so I was totally knackered and in no mood to drag myself to Toes Hallowe'en party on the friday night. I got a few messages from him throughout the day telling me he'd accept no excuses, and even telling me to get back to bed in the afternoon to make sure I made it! After all that I forced myself to get ready, going for the fetish part of the theme, purely because it meant making no more effort than wearing the contents of my underwear drawer. Leah and her boyfriend had come round to get ready at mine, so we could all be several hours late arriving, meaning things were in full swing when we got there. The 6'5 grim reaper was sat in the kitchen whilst Toes pranced round in his dress and corset by the decks with a guy in jeans and a t shirt. I noticed the tall, dark haired guy as soon as I arrived, but I'm ashamed to admit I thought he was gay, mainly because he was so good looking, but partly forgiveable I suppose at a party full of people where both sex and sexuality are very blurred.

I soon joined the smokers in the garden, wanting to catch up with the grim reaper, but before long fascinated by the conversation of the (all male) group. They were all a dither, having only just realised that the tall, ravishingly pretty girl they'd all been eyeing up wasn't actually a girl. I was more amused than I should have been at this as after a few initial shocked remarks, all but one bloke came rapidly to the conclusion that 'she' should see it as a compliment and moved on from the subject. Or they attempted to. The bloke who was gutted to the point he had tears in his eyes, kept going on and on about his psychological distress, that he actually might not have found out until the last moment was, so overweight, unattractive, and devoid of all personal and social skills that there was no way this attractive girl would ever notice him, and yet he was convinced he'd been in with a serious chance. Bizarre. However, whilst this was going on I had sussed out pretty quick that the seriously good looking guy wasn't gay, or a woman, or any of the other possibilities there that evening, he was it seemed 'just' a friend of a friend of Toes, who just so happened to be devastatingly good looking, Irish, funny, charming, and maybe flirting with me a little bit. I kind of hoped he was anyway, he was sharing my spliff while we were chatting away, back inside for a while, then back outside carrying on chatting when we were watching the fireworks set off by very drunken people in breach of any and every safety rule ever thought of whilst after one or two we ended up cowering in the kitchen, then, as these things happen, at these kind of parties anyway, he went a bit white and had to go to bed. Sigh. I was a bit mortified that I'd killed not just the most attractive man there, but the most good looking man any of us girls had seen for ages. ( I think we're a bit starved of attractive men round here!)

The party invitation had been for the whole weekend, although that's not usually taken up by the likes of me, so its not unusual for people to randomly get in to, or out of bed at any given point, in fact the very first one of Toes parties I went to, the whole evening was spent in his bed, with about 20 other people. No, not that kind of party. Dirty minded lot. Little Miss Red Riding Hood had turned up, just in time for the fireworks, she's a girl Toes knows, and really fancies from work, and she and I spent hours chatting in that way you do when you don't know each other but bond at a party, about men, shoes, clothes, men, sex, men, and men some more. We were talking about some guy she's crazy about at work, and so when Toes asked me today if I thought she might like him, I felt really awkward as she's totally in to this other guy. Eventually we somehow ended up in Toes bedroom, the gorgeous guy crashed out in the other bedroom and several people crashed out in Toes bed while a load of people carried on dancing downstairs.

The girly bonding conversation carried on with Toes and another mate listening and occasionally contributing, but every time I got up to go to the loo I went into the other room to check on the sexy Irishman, partly out of a vague sense of concern and responsibility, and partly just because he was so damn sexy. Mind, he managed to come alive every time I checked on him and chat to me for a few minutes, trying to get me to stay in there with him.

By around 4am although a few hard core dancers were still going there were about 5 people sleeping in Toes room and I'd crashed in the other room, which has no door and is lacking all its walls with the sexy Irishman. We were talking and giggling for a while in the single bed, before kissing, while other people wandered in and out hoping to crash out in the bed, or Toes come to check I wasn't being ravished against my will.

Hours later, after it had got light, we ended up back at my house, at first to sleep, but gradually it became one of those magical weekends where you only get out of bed to get each other clean so you can get each other dirty again. I drove him back to the old friend he was supposed to be spending the weekend with on sunday lunchtime both of us with silly grins on our faces.

He's so good looking that Fruitrock actually cheered earlier when she saw me, and even better he doesn't even seem to know it. Unfortunately he lives between 2.5 to 3.5 hours drive away from me, which puts a bit of a dampner on the whole situation, but we both said we'd like to see each other again, and have been texting since, with him being sure to tell me he won't be able to get my email for a few days as he's in work, which I hope is a good sign. We'll see. Life has already started to feel very different.


10/28/2007 06:03:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 6 Comments

I'm off! Well, at around 3.30 am I will be. I am both very excited (sitting here with a silly grin on my face) and absolutely terrified.

I had to phone round all the various 'booked assistance' points yesterday and today to make sure everything was properly booked, apart from anything else I check in at 5am so it's not like I can phone a few hours before I leave. The airline were really polite and helpful, assuring me the wheelchair assistance is booked at both airports, but the part which really concerns me, the one where I was supposed to be met with a wheelchair at just after 4am at the official car park hasn't been booked. When I spoke to the guy I thought it seemed incredibly quick to to sort everything out, and now I know why..he didn't bother even trying to book any assistance, just told me he was. The girl I spoke to today from the car park bookings insisted they don't/won't arrange assistance and put me through to the concierges who told me they were very busy at that time of night (really?) and so couldn't possibly book any assistance, but if I phone when I get there, 'they'll see what they can do' Right now that isn't sounding much fun to me, and I know it'll be far worse when I'm on my own in the carpark in the middle of the night.

So, worries about getting stuck in a car park in the middle of the night aside, I'm off to try and get some sleep, tomorrow's going to be an amazing day, but a long and very tiring one. Back at the weekend!


Stupid is as Stupid does

10/26/2007 03:50:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 7 Comments

Far from the plasma screen and real leather recliner lifestyle so popularly described in many right wing blogs and msm, the reality of life on benefits is life lived on a knife's edge.

Neighbour has been experiencing increasing financial problems which have come to a head today. She has congenital hip problems, was actually born without a hip, no socket or femur bone which in itself you'd think would be painful enough, but when she had her artificial hip put in some years ago the surgeon caused massive nerve damage which no-one since has ever seen fit properly attemp to treat. This of course impacts on her knees, the whole of her pelvis and spine.

As a result of these problems neighbour receives Incapacity Benefit at the long term higher rate. It totals up to around £368 every 4 weeks. She has been receiving the higher rate of the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) which is £180 every 4 weeks. Housing Benefit of approximately £82 per week, with a rent of £475 per month. Suffice to say she has over £100 a month shortfall between what housing benefit provide and her actual rent. There are never available council properties for people without children, with disabilities who are under 65, which is why a few years ago a social worker wanted me to be grateful for her efforts to put me into sheltered accomodation for the elderly. I was 28. As neighbour receives Incapacity Benefit she only gets part of her council tax paid for her.

Recently neighbour reapplied for discretionary housing benefit, a top up to housing benefit paid to those in particular need. It's difficult to get and deeply degrading to apply for, you have to justify every penny you spend, supplying receipts for your food shopping etc which, whilst making it utterly humiliating for those genuinely in need, I suspect may make it a fraudsters paradise. Although she had previously been granted this top up payment (but still left with a much smaller shortfall) this time she has been refused. No reason was given, it's just how it goes.

Neighbour phoned the Benefits Enquiry Line for advice. They informed her that she receives too much money to be eligible for Income Support. They also informed her that her DLA mobility should have ended two years ago (she had thought it was a 'lifetime' award, she's only going to get worse after all) and that despite it being completely the fault of the Department of Work and Pensions for continuing to pay her after not sending her out more forms to assess whether she was still entitled to DLA they are very likely to attempt to aggressively pursue her for this money.

Neighbour is terrified. It is near impossible in the area we live in to find properties to rent for under £450 per month, those scant few that appear for less are in areas no-one wants to live in and certainly where a single, disabled woman would feel even more vulnerable, that's if they don't state 'no pets, no smokers, no DSS' like the vast majority of private rentals do. Neighbour is facing a situation where her total income will be under £700 every 4 weeks, with rent of £475, thus leaving her just over £220 to pay council tax, gas, electric, all other utilities. They add up to more than £220 per month despite the fact she has no luxury items. I don't think it unreasonable to count an internet connection as vital when you are lacking in mobility and have to shop for food that way.

This is of course the same neighbour who despite her own problems getting around has been ensuring that I eat and helping me since social services decided that despite witnessing my hip dislocating repeatedly and without trauma, commenting on the obvious amount of pain it caused, recommending I get a community alarm as I would be safer that way, that in their opinion none of that meant I needed any help as I could obviously manage.

I am in many respects luckier than neighbour. I am substantially more disabled, and have care needs as well as mobility. Who'd ever have thought being more disabled or that pissing yourself could ever have an upside? Well, it means I'm entitled to the care component of DLA, although funnily enough those needs I have during the daytime that the DWP granted me middle rate care for bizarrely disappear at night, well according to them they do, and that's so they didn't have to grant me the extra £20 or so a week that giving me higher rate care my GP wrote and told them they should do, would have meant.

Unlike neighbour, I'm not entitled to Incapacity Benefit. Well, not really. The benefits system is wildly complicated you see, so I had to apply for Incapacity Benefit and Income Support so that I could be turned down for Incapacity Benefit and only get the national insurance credits part of it and be granted Income Support. Why can't I get Incapacity Benefit? That's a long story, but to do with not having been diagnosed until I was 28, being told I was lazy and malingering so working multiple part time jobs too poorly paid to reach the NI contributions limit so I don't have enough contributions to entitle me to IB and although I was substantially disabled in my early 20's, I wasn't believed so was determined to work and when I did try to apply for benefits found it rather difficult with a GP who insisted I was an attention seeking liar.
So, unlike neighbour I receive Income Support, which is paid at a higher level because of the premuims granted for my care needs. However, should I ever enter in to a relationship, even with someone on a low income, whoever my partner is will be deemed financially liable for me and all my (means tested) Income Support would stop. A hefty burden on any relationship I'm sure you'll agree, whereas Incapacity Benefit is non means tested and so if neighbour were to be in that situation her IB would continue.

People on Income Support are entitled to have all of their council tax paid for them, despite often having higher incomes than those on Incapacity Benefit. I get around £10 per week more than neighbour in housing benefit, which I am apparently entitled to because my care needs mean I need more space for equipment etc, although just like neighbour I still have around £100 rent shortfall.

Neighbour will have to wait at least a week until the DWP send her out new forms to fill in for Disability Living Allowance. It will take around a week, probably more to fill out the forms correctly, we're not sure where to find the specialist help she needs to do this in our area, services have been cut. Last time I had to reapply for DLA it was approximately a 3 month wait to hear back. In the meantime neighbour has more going out on rent and utilities than she does coming in.

This is what it's really like to live on benefits. No plasma tv's here, just fear and if we don't pull together as friends and a community, as I've experienced in the past, you can get very cold and very hungry, very quickly. Welcome to the real world.


Meeting Mr Big

10/26/2007 12:06:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 8 Comments

I'd been diagnosed about six months previously and was very wary of the whole idea of relationships after a near miss with a guy who'd turned out to be a total psycho. I hadn't a clue where to start with explaining the concept of EDS to a man or what has always bothered me more, that I'm not able to work because of it and so I entered in to a pact with a mate who was in similar circumstances that we would sign up for a dating site together.

At first it intimidated me, all those bulk emails
from men who 'luvved gettin pissed an avin a laff', mixed in with offensive ones from angry abusive men, and the odd ones asking about a price for the weekend so I withdrew as I do whenever I'm scared and, on this occasion, hid the computer in a cupboard so the really scary blokes would have no chance of finding me. Eventually, once I'd worked up the courage to run the gauntlet of the dating site again, I started to find the real emails in amongst all this, and something about his stood out, although not his photo as that made him look a little like an upper class playboy and thankfully nothing like his true gorgeous self.

After my initial reply to him, we emailed back and forth and rapidly progressed to spending hours in the evenings talking about anything and everything via msn. He was highly intelligent, he made me laugh, we had things in common, he seemed kind, interested in things as much as he was interesting and right from the start, even through words on a screen, bizarre though it seemed, I could feel how gentle and compassionate he was.
This was to be my first experience of dating as a 'disabled person' with a 'label' and I thought I was ready for it, thought the best thing to do was to tell him about having EDS before we met and then if it was a real issue for him, well, we never had to meet. It didn't seem to be a major problem, not then anyway.

The night we first met in person we went for dinner at a restaurant near my home. I had such butterflies in my tummy waiting for him to arrive, part of me didn't think he'd turn up, part of me wasn't sure I wanted him to. I'd had a really bad few days in the run up to our date and had my painkillers doubled by my GP so I was both unsteady on my feet and fairly floaty. I'd almost fallen over a couple of times before we even got in the door of the restaurant yet I was so insecure and so unused to being shown any kind of assistance willingly or gently that I was taken aback and doubtful when he took my arm to steady me.

I was so busy panicking that when we sat down and I saw his hands shaking I didn't think he might be nervous, I stressed myself into thinking I was on a date with a raging alcoholic. Because that made perfect sense. I couldn't understand what a man like him was doing being seen with someone like me, but it made sense if he had a drink problem. He ordered a G&T. I calmed down a bit whilst panicking at the same time. I was on a date with a complete alki but that was ok, I could get that.

The fact that he didn't have anything else to drink as he was driving ruined my alcoholic theory, but I continued to panic as firstly I couldn't cut up my own food, prompting him to calmly take my plate, cut everything up and hand it back, then I had to keep standing up by the side of our table to try and carry on our conversation throughout the meal as the hard wooden chairs were just too painful for me to sit on. Despite my usual ability to talk increasing amounts of nonsense the more stressed and embarrassed I get, he evidently wasn't too put off as he came back to mine for a cuppa where he had to let both of us in to the house as I couldn't open my own front door. Of course that was unless he was 'one of those perverts with a fetish for disabled girls' like so many people had made sure to tell me he must be.

I think my inability to get in my own home was probably the point he decided it was safer to take over, throw me out of the kitchen and make the cups of tea himself. We sat on the sofa, drinking them and chatted for hours, kitty #1 firmly planted in between us, like an indignant feline shield, growling with menace if he so much as leant towards me whilst he was talking. Although my wobbling didn't seem to bother him, he spent half his time catching me as I tripped over (I'm always far more unsteady if I'm nervous or excited), his touching me did seem to further enrage the cat who was waiting, poised and ready to pounce, when finally in the wee small hours he did kiss me.

Oh my god what a first kiss it was.
Unforgettable. This is a man who, from the first moment he touched me has been able to take my breath away. In every way. As he kissed my neck and my senses reeled, they reeled just a little too much and I coughed, stopped breathing and promptly went a bit blue in front of him. Which is just what you want to boost your ego the first time you ever kiss someone. I was hugely impressed and reassured by his calm as he held my hand and asked if I needed his help as I rearranged things in my throat, put my errant thyroid gland back into place and got my breath back. Despite his outward calm he must've been terrified, I was certainly scared as it had come as such a shock, although it didn't stop him kissing me again once I'd regained some sort of composure. All of which of course I lost as soon as he kissed me. And kissed me. For hours. Everywhere.

I think it was that I was so convinced I would never see him again that made me so uninhibited. I wouldn't admit it to myself until much, much later, but I'd been lost from the first moment, never mind the first kiss, but I've always thought it'd be the last time, he'd realise, find someone better, more suited to being with someone as special as him.

He left in the small hours of the morning, an hour's drive away from home and due in work a few hours later.