I know Why the Bird Cage Swings

I know why January lasts so long.

Psychologically, everyone breathes a sigh of relief on Boxing Day, and then proceeds to spend the next few days in a state of confusion and limbo, where no-one really knows what day it is, and everything is all topsy turvy. You’re bored of the decorations, and maybe you rip them down, throwing the dusty lights into boxes which by next year you’ll regret, because you’ll have to untangle it all.

We then sit and wait, while the longest week in the universe gives way to New Year, which is followed by another ghostly day or two, and then the clockwork towns start to whirr again, and everything is supposed to go back to normal.

By this time, most people have forgotten what normal is, because Christmas has been going on since about September. The days are still dark but the pretty twinklies have all come down. By the time the snow comes, the lights are out. January is essentially, five weeks long, because that post-Christmas feeling begins way before January does.

And we’ve still got February to go.

Plus, we’re still in lockdown. Everyone is skint. Some friends of mine had bailiffs at the door the other day in the middle of a pandemic demanding cash. This was due to an unpaid council tax bill. The guy lost his job due to Covid and had to move in with elderly relatives. The council wouldn’t let him set up a payment plan. So, bailiffs knocked on the door and hassled people in their 70s and 80s at 8.30 am. This was a bit much for my friend. The next door he attempted on his own life and was sent to A&E. He waited for hours. He was then given a Zopoclone and told to go home. He has an appointment with a mental health team in two weeks-time. Meanwhile, they’ve given him some anti-histamines.

He can’t find another job. He’s not in a great place. And there’s no one to help. Good work, Pembs County Council. You couldn’t just set up a payment plan? This is their whole attitude. I have friends who are still waiting for their OPD planning application to be looked at after nearly two years. I have another friend who got planning last March and the council still haven’t signed it off so that he can start work. However, the other day, when some tree surgeon buddies were doing a job, a guy came out an told them he was calling the council. The enforcement officer was on the phone within ten minutes, accusing the workers of cutting down a tree that they shouldn’t have, threatening that if the tree had been cut, the planning permission would be taken away.

When I emailed the enforcement officer last week to tell them I had sold my plot which failed at OPD, the response was instant, enquiring as to whether everything from the site had gone. The new owners are going to dismantle everything to save me the stress, knowing that I have suffered enough at the whims of PCC, but the enforcement officer couldn’t resist that last little bit of demanding attitude. It’s not enough for them that they took away my home and business. No, they want to me to take everything apart, piece by piece, alone, in order that I may pay maximum penance. I was diagnosed last week with Fibromyalgia. Doctor reckons the stress of the last few years is what’s done it. I believe her. Many times over the last few years I’ve been close to the bone like my buddy, who is now waiting for the council run crisis team to get round to helping him. From what I’ve seen of their service, the help doesn’t really extend to much. You end up having to save yourself.

And how do you do that exactly?

Well, no matter how many self-help books you read and how many times you go to CBT to get rid of negative thoughts, there’s no arguing with the fact that the reason we’re all so messed up is because humans were never designed to live in this high impact stressful world full of rules, where modern slavery takes the form of underpaid work, where there is no leisure time, or funds for leisure, where everyone is struggling constantly just to get by.

Mental health provision is simply paying lip service and ticking a box. There is no help in this society, How can there be? Are they going to conjure my friend up a job that he can enjoy and that will pay him well enough to cover his bills and enable him to afford a reasonably priced property to live in? Unlikely.

If you get through this world with all its injustices, without developing some stress related disease or another, then you are truly blessed and have walked the tightrope. For the majority of us, there is nothing to do but wait for the inevitable. To be ill and have an NHS that no longer works because of privatisation. To be dictated to by a council who are only interested in you if you’re working class and have done something wrong, to be skint and be unable to find meaningful work that pays properly.

If you need something from PCC anytime soon, forget it. They’re all super busy and working from home. However, if you flout a rule, or even if you don’t and someone just thinks you have, they’ll be round like a shot. If you’ve been emailing them to no avail, and phoning and being left on hold for hours, just to be told the person you need will call you back, and then they never do, best thing is just to tell them you’ve built a shed or cut down a tree. Result. Callback in ten minutes. Absolutely foolproof. Don’t thank me. Public service is my job.

Published by Tess Delaney

I mostly only come out at night... mostly....

2 thoughts on “I know Why the Bird Cage Swings

  1. Planning is a battle unless you are a multinational, or at least have more financial resources than a LPA. Fewer and fewer people have any resources at all, so they get pushed around. What has happened to all those egalitarian hopes that inspired people after WW2? Destroyed by Neolibs and Neocons.


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