Saturday, 31 December 2011

A Catch Up

If you have been wondering, which I know some of you have been, I have been busy being Christmassy and festive and so I haven’t had time to update my blog. Sorry about that !

Now let me have a think about what has been happening....
Oh yes, well, the woman from Iain Duncan Smiths office, was going to tell the woman from the benefits office to send me an expenses form to fill out so they could sort out my compensation. I was supposed to be sending in my phone bill and claim for the loss of free school lunches since August. Well, that didn’t happen and obviously isn’t going to happen because they sent me a letter saying they are giving me compensation of £75.
I think I am just going to draw a line under it all now and forget it. I don’t think that £75 is compensation at all but as there is no appeal process, it’s time to move on.
While we are on the subject of benefits, the DLA people wrote to us to say they can’t make a decision until they have spoken to our GP (still a lovely man). Our GP received a form from them to fill out. He rang Ady and spoke to him about it. Ady, being a bloke, won’t actually admit to what he can and can’t do, and his answer to things he struggles with is “Oh well, that’s just life isn’t it” *sigh* I like to know word for word what is said so I know what is going on. Unfortunately, Ady never tells me word for word what has been said, so God knows what is going on, and I don’t hold out much hope of being awarded even the lowest rate of any component! Oh well, never mind eh...they are scrapping it next year so everyone will be buggered.

When the children were young, I got myself an allotment. I was really excited about it and planned everything I was going to grow. I bought myself books to learn how to grow things and I was really looking forward to living like they did in ‘The Good Life’ with Felicity whatshername.
Ady kept telling me that it wouldn’t last and that I was mad. He went on about how it is hard work digging ground over and keeping everything watered and so on.
I told him he was talking rubbish and it is going to be great. The girls are going to love it and will learn all about growing things, and they can have their own bit so they can grow their own stuff.

Well, when I got my plot and the keys to my allotment, the girls and I went off down there with our wellingtons and spades. I planned in my head where everything was going and all the little paths I was going to have and everything.
I started digging the first patch ready for radishes (we don’t even like bloody radishes) cos the book said they are easy to grow. After about three digs, I realised that this whole operation is going to be much much harder than I first thought. The girls then started squealing at spiders, slugs and ants nests.
I thought to myself “Blimey noras, this is NOT going to plan at all” I thought that if I get the allotment completely dug over to get me started, THEN, me and the girls will enjoy it.
Ady had always made it very clear that he would have nothing to do with any of it cos he does digging and weeding all day every day.
Being a woman, I asked him to come and have a look at how well I had done so far (with my 3 digs worth, I told him I had nearly done half of it of course). He came to have a look. He said “For goodness sake woman, you haven’t dug nearly deep enough and anyway, I told you it is bloody hard and your silly ideas!”
After a few more wordly exchanges, Ady set to and dug my allotment over for me. Blimey,I have never heard so much moaning and complaining in my life, and nor had the other allotment holders!
To cut a long story short, the girls hated the slugs, spiders and ants and the weeds kept growing everywhere.
The final straw was when I thought I was weeding my potatoes and realised that I was pulling the actual potato plant stalk things off, thinking they were weeds. Bloody things!
So I gave up my allotment soon after, but not to worry, because I am getting another one !
This time it is going to be SO much better, cos I am going to read the instructions on the packets and everything.
I am sharing with two of my sisters, so that should be fun and Ady is relieved cos he can’t help at all, although he says that the whole idea of me having another allotment has thrown him into a deep depression!

I asked the girls to write down what they wanted for Christmas this year, because we decided we would only get them what they actually want so there was no waste.
Charlotte (the 12 year old) went onto the Utterly Horses website and picked all the cheapest things she wanted that was Schleich. She really loves collecting these and has hours of fun making rugs and wotnots for them. She is not into fashion or the latest this or the latest that. She loves collecting, making, drawing and doing.
Steph (the 11 year old bless her) wrote things like make up, high heel shoes, microphone, false nails, things from Jack Wills and a blackberry phone (she has gone on and on and on for months about a bloody blackberry).....riiiight....
So, I went into the o2 shop to see what this whole blackberry business was about and realised that because she is on a simplicity contract anyway at £10 per month because the amount she texts, it is MUCH cheaper than PAYG (I got them both simplicity contracts last year when Ady was in hospital with his bowel cancer so they could keep in contact when they liked), all I had to do, was up the contract by £6 per month and we got the latest blackberry worth £350.00 for free!
That actually solved a whole big problem. I had no immediate payment to make up front, which was great, and even with a two year contract, it still isn’t the price of the phone.
As I had done that, I was able to get Charlotte her Schleich things she wanted.
Both girls were SO happy with their presents. Steph has been glued to her phone and is treasuring it and Charlotte has been in her room with her horses and bits ever since!

We had a really lovely Christmas.
I could say a lot more about the festive season and the whole family get together on Boxing day and about the girls deciding that now they are older and on school holidays, they are not going to bed until midnight and not getting up until lunch the next day but atm, I am trying to eat my dinner, do this blog and organise everyone to have showers and stuff ready to go out to the new Years Eve party this evening where I am staying sober so Ady can have a drink, oh and I have to pick Dave and Sue up too...bugger, and I need to get some petrol....damn it, and I was going to write a whole nother great big thoughtful bit about the year we have just had and get all profound and such like...perhaps I will do that tomorrow, we will see.

But for now, we really do wish you all a very happy New Year J xx

Friday, 16 December 2011

Lists, Forms and Bones

Now, as I was saying about my lists. I do like to get a job done and cross it off my list. It makes you feel like you have achieved something when that happens, I, well you must be odd then.

Anyway, after I had spoken to Janet, the Parliamentary associate person last week or whenever it was. She said to me that it was ‘case closed’ as our claim had been sorted and for me to expect a letter of apology and some compensation which she would sort out.
Soopadoopa, I thought, I can cross that off my list and move on, sit back and wait for my letter while I crack on with the next stage of claims, like mortgage interest payments and free school meals. I can forget about the whole letter saga and to be honest, if the manager had spoken to me and sorted this on the occasions that I had asked for her to call, then I doubt that this would have got as far as it has. But she didn’t and I hope she has had a bollocking for it.
So anyway, A call came later in the day after Ady’s tooth saga, and it was from ‘Jean’. She works in Iain Duncan Smiths office no less.
It turns out that my MP Greg Clark (brilliant, helpful man) not only had written to the benefits office to ask what on earth was going on, but he had also written to Iain Duncan Smith to make him aware of what is going on and sent him a link to this blog, which ‘Jean’ has read!
At this point, I would like to make a suggestion for Iain while he is overhauling the benefits system. Having been through this whole sorry mess, I really do think that people diagnosed with cancer and unable to work should be given immediate ESA payments while the benefit is being worked out. It would reduce what is an extremely worrying and stressful situation with the diagnosis itself, let alone the financial side.  The doctors sick note clearly says if the person has cancer so it shouldn’t be too difficult to work out surely?
I never ever want to go through what we have been through since August, ever again. Nor would I want anyone else to go through the same thing.

Anyway, back to ‘Jean’. She was lovely and told me that my complaint was as high level as you can get....Lordy!, I only wanted what we were entitled to!
She is now in touch with ‘Janet’ and is ...well I’m not terribly sure really, because I thought ‘Janet’ was on the case and dealing with it, but anyway, ‘Jean’ is going to tell ‘Janet’ to send me an envelope so I can send my telephone bill in so they can see how much the calls have been and I need to let her know about missing out on free school lunches (which I forgot to mention), and then they are going to send it to people in Glasgow.......Oh well, what happens, happens, and what doesn’t, doesn’t, but for now, we are going to enjoy Christmas and forget about it all!
If I have the energy and I haven’t heard anything by the end of January, then I might call, but we will see.
So what I thought was crossed off my list, isn’t now and so I have had to make a new list and add an old job back to frustrating!

I was told that the lady I had spoken to in the mortgage department was going to deal with my mortgage personally.
I rang the benefits office the other day and asked for a call back from her, and I gave her name. A man called me back and said that there was nothing to say that she would be dealing with our claim.
Both ‘Janet’ and ‘Jean’ told me that I would have someone deal with it personally, but hey!
It would help if I actually read the instructions on the front of the forms before filling them out because then I wouldn’t do it all wrong and have to ring up and ask for more!
But they are done now and in the post to the bank to do their bit, and then I suspect I will get a letter back from the benefits department asking me what I bought with this and how I paid for that twenty years ago *sigh*’s going to go on for months....I can feel it in my water.

People who know us personally, have been telling us to claim Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for yonks. So a couple of weeks ago, I set to it. Blimey noras, it’s like filling out parts to a War and Peace novel!
The whole form is very off putting actually, but thank fully, a welfare rights advisor from Macmillan was very helpful and set me on the right tracks.
Filling out the form was quite an eye opener, and a sad one at that.
Ady was embarrassed and defensive about some of the questions when he had to admit to the things he struggles with and the things he can’t do.
It was a big realisation about how much I help him and Ady was very down and feeling quite angry when we had finished.

Any small reservations I had about claiming DLA at the beginning of the form, were diminished by the time we had finished and I certainly do think we are entitled to something, but who knows....

I think that is it for now. The girls are off school until the new year so we are now going to relax and enjoy Christmas.

Oh hang on, I haven’t said about the bones man!
Well, we went to see him at the beginning of December. He is a man of few words but pleasant enough.
Ady often complains about his shoulder. Well, he says in passing “Cor my shoulder hurts” and then just carries on with whatever.
I have never really taken much notice because he doesn’t complain like I would so I always think it isn’t that bad.
For the first time, while filling out the DLA form, he told me that actually, it is really painful all the time and always has been, especially in the mornings. I think Ady is a very stoical person cos I would be shouting from the roof tops!

I told him that he must tell the bones man about it because it is obviously arthritis and he should know.
The problem with Ady is, that the bones man does ask about his pain, and Ady will say “Well, I spose my shoulder hurts a bit” and he will leave it at that. The bones man thinks it doesn’t hurt that much or he would be making more of a fuss about it, but Ady doesn’t!

So this time, I made Ady tell him that his shoulder REALLY hurts....”Dont use the word ‘bit’ but use the word ‘really,’ “I said
So Ady told him and the bones man said on a scale of 1 to 10, how much does it hurt....Ady said a 7.
A bloody seven for goodness the bloody hell can a pain of 7 hurt a bit?
So I have realised that I need to listen and take more notice when he complains of ‘a bit of pain’ because actually, that means he is in agony.

The bones man gave him a steroid injection to ease things up a bit for a few weeks, but of course steroid injections does your sugar levels no favours at all if you are a can’t have it all I spose!


I used to be a bit of a ‘list freak’ and could only operate during the day if I had a list, perfectly written, with no mistakes and clean uncrinkled paper. Sometimes, I would write my list out 3 or 4 times, until it was perfect, and of course, you have to put the ticks on the left of the writing so you can see them properly, and cross each job out with up and down lines, not side to side ones. Ady would then piss me off by putting 7/10, must try harder, at the bottom.
Then the girls came along and would scribble on my lists, with flipping crayon, so I stopped doing them altogether.

Now they are older, and Ady has grown up a bit, I am back to my lists, thank goodness!
I love nothing more than having A4 paper and nice pens to do a good list on!
As Christmas is getting nearer, I am sorting out Betty and Brian and making sure they have everything ready for the festive season when the families take over for a while. I like to make sure they have their cupboards stocked and plenty of medication in, that sort of thing.

Bugger, I can’t remember why I am telling you this now, oh well, let’s talk about teeth and perhaps it will come back to me....

Now, if you have been paying attention, you will remember that I wrote about Ady’s tooth and swollen face. Well, it so happened, that I got a bit of tooth ache where they told me one of my fillings had fractured a few months ago.
“Brilliant”, I thought to myself. “Time for a bit of sympathy for ME for a change”.
I started moaning and groaning about my tooth, and holding my face. I made me an appointment to have the filling re done.“Well, Mrs ***, he is rather busy” The receptionist said “ Can you come in in a week?”, so a week it was, but if it got worse, then I could ring again.
Well, can you flipping believe it....Ady, then decided that the tooth that was next to the tooth that had been pulled out, was hurting...and hurting a lot. This was on the Friday...well, HE rings the dentist and of course she says to him “Oh dear Adrian, you poor thing, can you get here first thing on Monday morning? But if you can’t manage, then we can try and fit you in today”....Bloody cheek!!

He munched his way through painkillers over the weekend and on Monday morning, I dropped him off at the dentist.
About an hour later, he rang to ask me to pick him up. I have to say, he didn’t sound very well...
He told me that he has never felt pain like it. Usually, he sleeps his way through any dental treatment, but this time, they had to scrape him off the ceiling while they were pulling his tooth out!
The dentist said that she thought it didn’t feel right when she took the one next to it out. She said that it was cracked down to the bone (they were both crowns) and had a bit of a job getting it out. She also put stitches in him gum.
Poor Ady, we went off to get his antibiotics and dropped into the doctors to pick up another sick note for the benefits people, and I took him home.
He was standing in the kitchen, taking his tablets, in terrible agony, saying “I don’t deserve this, I just don’t deserve any of this at all”
I felt quite sorry for him actually, and thought it best not to mention my tooth ache.

Things must have been bad in the dentist chair that morning because his dentist rang later in the day to check he was OK as she felt she had put him through a bit of an ordeal....I still didn’t mention my tooth...

So this week, he has been wandering around and randomly shoving his mouth in my face saying “Do these stitches look alright to you Em?.....Look, one is dangling down..shall I pull it?” *sigh*

Later that afternoon, I had a call from Iain Duncan Smiths office, which has reminded me about my lists.

We are Emma, Ady, Charlotte and Stephanie and we live at


Monday, 12 December 2011

My Lovely Friends.

I have some really lovely friends....really really lovely in fact.
Four of them are called Martha, Moo, Ness and Emma.
Martha’s son passed an audition to perform in The Nutcracker in a town about an hour away.Emma’s daughter did the same. We were all really really chuffed for them and agreed that we would have a nice evening out to watch it.
Well, me being me, with quite a bit on my plate at the time, never really got around to getting the tickets.  I had planned myself some time to sort them out when Martha caught me one day and said “Emma, would you like some free tickets?”
“Free” I said, “You bet I would”
“Good, it’s all sorted then”
“How have you managed to get them” I asked, thinking that because her son was performing, they had given her some complimentary ones and she had already bought hers so they were spare.
“Never you mind” she said, and off she walked.
I thought to myself that I would find out eventually, how she got the tickets and when my thoughts were correct, then I would go halves with her.
A few days later, she asked if I was in on Wednesday evening just after 8 o’clock. I said that I was and she said “Great, I have a surprise coming for you”
On the one hand, how jolly exciting was that, and on the other, how bloody frustrating that she was wandering around grinning at me, knowing something I didn’t!
I am someone who loves to know what is going on at all times and I hate it when things are kept from me, and when Martha keeps a secret, then it is kept!
I asked her if I needed to do housework in preparation for this surprise. She thought for a minute and then said “Nah, don’t worry”...Hmmm, I thought. I kept trying to question her to see if she would slip up, but she is a hard nut to crack, that one.
I would have worked on Moo, Ness and Emma, had I have known they were in on it!

Wednesday came, and I did rush about doing housework, just in case, and there was a knock at the door.
There they were,Moo, Ness, Emma and Martha, dressed up in Christmas outfits, with Martha dressed as Father Christmas, singing carols, holding a big basket.

Well, blow me down, bloody well behind my back, throughout all of November, they had been filling the huge hamper type basket with lots of goodies.
Not only was there Christmas food in there, as well as crackers and chocolates for the tree, and wine and tins and things, they had also wrapped presents too!
Blimey, there was hot chocolate and marshmallows and sweets for the girls and chutneys and allsorts!

And what’s more, there were the tickets for the show which they had bought!
I think they enjoyed the silence from me for about an hour. They have never heard me silent before!

Steph was eyeing up the chocolates and Charlotte was quite overwhelmed and got a bit teary. I think Ady was a bit speechless too.

What a simply lovely thing to do and yet again, what lovely friends we have!
We are such a lucky family in many ways, we really are. How can you be down in the dumps when people are so lovely!

The girls worried that I might be offended at what they had done. Offended? Blimey, you must be joking!
I can’t put into words how lovely it is!

We went to the show on the train and had a really lovely evening. The show was fantastic. Emma’s daughter was beautiful and graceful and Martha’s son, well, he actually got the part of Fritz amongst others and he is only nine! He was brilliant. A really proud moment for the parents that we were able to share.

Thank you ladies, for such a lovely surprise. On Christmas day, we are going to do a treasure hunt with the presents. The girls are going to do one for me and Ady, and me and Ady are going to do one for the girls. Can you imagine how exciting that is going to be, cos none of us know what is in the presents!

I can’t wait. We are all really looking forward to Christmas this year!

Pictures to follow once I have worked the camera out!

We are Emma, Ady, Charlotte and Stephanie and we live at
Piss City Central,

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

A Beacon Of Light.

There I was, sitting, waiting impatiently for my promised phone call. I was going through the whole conversation I was going to have with her in my head. The more I spoke about it to myself, the crosser I got and then the phone rang.
Christ, I nearly shit myself!
You see, the problem with me, is that I will wind myself up and think to myself that I am going to really shoot straight from the hip as it were, tell her how cross I am and sound really annoyed. But when it comes to the crunch, I am a bit pathetic really.
Let’s call the lady Janet.
She was really lovely. I started off by apologising to her that she had to ring me and that I was putting her to all this trouble of sorting out the mess. I genuinely did feel bad that I was causing all this trouble. Pathetic of me, I know, but that is my nature.
She had read my letter and agreed that there were a lot of issues that needed dealing with and she wanted to talk to me about them and let me know that she is on the case, but would follow up with a letter. She is also writing up a report for someone...dunno who.
She also agreed that my letter was of award winning proportions!
We started at the beginning with the whole ‘rapid reclaim’ rubbish I was told and apart from that, we agreed that things started off quite well.
The problems started when it got to the decision makers. She said that it was with them for an unacceptable length of time.
She looked up how many call I had made and was pretty horrified at the amount of times I had called. She said that they should have put me into some group thing where they do your claim the same day after I had called so many times.
She completely understood the frustration and that we were made to feel like undeserving benefit scroungers. She said that she had spoken to Ady and he sounded really lovely. She felt sorry for him and us, that we have had to go through all this alongside everything else and that we have been let down by them.

She told me that my complaint was a high level one and that she was a Parliamentary Correspondent who only deals with the big ones.
For the first time, I actually felt that someone was listening to me and that I was being treated like a human being.
We went through how the claim had been worked out and taking away my wages, and including the £20 disregard, we are now getting the grand total of £106.95.
Jesus Christ, all that for seven blood quid!
But....this does mean that I can now claim for the interest payments on the mortgage which should have been done a month ago!
It’s another complicated affair but, it so happens that the mortgage lady I spoke to the other day, asked Janet how I was as she felt sorry for me. Janet has given me her name and has told me that I can send the mortgage papers to her to sort out.
I also have Janet’s direct line number and she has told me that she very rarely does it, but I must keep hold of it and that if I have any more problems that make me steam, then I must ring her. I have to go through normal stuff on the 0845 number but don’t take any more shit!

So,it might only be £106.95, but having Janet’s number, and someone there who I can call if I need, and someone who I know is going to deal with the mortgage bit is worth so much more!

She is also going to compensate me for the distress, delay, misinformation and calls.

I know it’s her job, but she has been a beacon of light in what have been some very dark and frustrating months. She has been kind, lovely and understanding.

Words cannot describe the relief in this house, that something that has gone on for months has finally been resolved.
Now I can get back to looking after my husband and children.

I still want to speak to David or Iain though!

Oh, and Martha, Moo, Ness and Emma, I haven’t forgotten you. You are next !!

And It Goes On.

I sent my letter off last Tuesday week, recorded delivery. I also emailed my MP with the letter and a link to this blog to pass on to Iain Duncan Smith. I was told that it might take two or three days for the letter to get there, so I thought that I would give them until the end of the week to contact me. As each day went on, my blood pressure rose more and more. By Friday, I was starting to steam a bit.

I heard back very quickly from my MP’s secretary, telling me that he would look into it and ask the benefits people what they are playing at.

On Monday, a letter arrived through the post. Yippee, I thought...FINALLY. I opened it as quickly as I could, all excited I was, and blow me bloody well down, all it was, was the decision makers decision on what I have earnt. The same figures I had sent them on 11th October! So I STILL didn’t know what we were entitled to!
Well, by this point, I was boiling with fury.
I rang at 2.45 and asked the person if they could give me any idea what was going on with our claim. “Oh yes” She said “The decision makers have made the decision”..”Yes” I said, “They made that a couple of weeks ago. I have the letter here telling me about their decision. Could you tell me what our entitlement is please” “Erm” she said  “It says on my computer £106.95”
“£106.95.........” I said. I could not believe that I am going through all this for a measly seven pounds!
Flamin ‘eck,I cant be bothered with all these speech marks and mucking around so I will just tell you what happened. She didn’t really seem to know what was happening or where or who had our claim and couldn’t answer why we had not had a letter of entitlement telling us that we were entitled to £106.95.
I told her that we should be in the income related bit and that we were being stopped from claiming the interest payments on our mortgage because they are so slow and nothing is being done. I asked for yet another call back. She told me that it would happen either today or the first 45 minutes of Tuesday morning.
I knew that there would be no call back that day and sure enough, the next morning, I got my call back.
You are going to love this next bit.....
My call back was from the lady in the mortgage department!...what can I say!’s like dealing with fecking numpties from numptydom. I should never have confused the poor girl the day before by mentioning mortgage payments although the most hysterical part was that she seemed to understand my problem because she said she would send me a form to fill out to get the payments. All I wanted, was to speak to someone about the ES goddamn A!
The poor mortgage woman was completely confused when I started going on about ESA and my letter and decision makers. When we realised that she didn’t have a clue what I was talking about and that it wasn’t her department that I wanted to speak to, she told me that she would request an hour call back from a line manager in the ESA department.
Having had four months of this rubbish, I decided to ring myslef and ask for an hour call back to, just to make sure I got one.
Well, the woman who answered the phone to me this time, tried to tell me that I couldn’t have an hour call back and that I have to have a three hour call back. I can only have an hour call back if I didn’t get a three hour call back. Well, by this time, I was actually starting to spit as I spoke through gritted teeth, while explaining to her that I may have had a three hour call back, but it wasn’t from the right fecking department Goddamn it. I wanted to speak to the line manager in the ESA department within an hour...please.
“I will send them through an email” She said.
I don’t need to tell you that I didn’t get my call back cos you have probably already guessed.

I was incandescent with rage and went off to dish up the children’s school lunches. I tried my very best not to splat the food on their plates making it look like a cow had crapped everywhere and slamming cutlery down on the tables....I did very well under the circumstances!
While I was in the kitchen, taking my anger out on the plates and cutlery while I was washing up, Ady rang me.
“Hello Em, I have just had a call from a nice lady from the government. Something to do with Cleggs lot I think, I dunno though but she seems really nice. She is going to call you this afternoon”
“Oh fucking well IS she” I said, “Well, I won’t be holding my breath, I’ve been hearing this shit for months”
“Well” he said “She is really nice and she has read your letter and has been looking through everything over the last 24 hours. I have had a nice chat with her for about 20 minutes to half an hour”
He told me that he went on at her about his cancers and how he didn’t want the cancers and didn’t want to be in this position and that if he could work then he would. He has been brought up to work and has never needed benefits before, he has always worked. He told her how the whole benefits thing has got him down and that he is trying to deal with his cancer and that he doesn’t ‘do’ dealing with paperwork and forms and that I am dealing with all that side of things. “The wife is my rock and this is really stressing her. If she is stressed, then I can’t cope” he said.
“I bet you bored her silly” I said back to him.
So, I finished the washing up and stomped off home. I made myself a coffee and rolled me some fags, sat at the dining room table, with folded arms and a tapping foot, waiting for the phone to ring...

We are Emma, Ady, Charlotte and Stephanie and we live at
Frustration Lane,