Sunday, 18 March 2012
Happy Mother's Day
"Another Brown Envelope arrived today. It's clearly marked from the Department. My neighbours might have seen, but I think I got it in time. It told me I cost too much. They're stopping my money next month. I am a Useless Eater. What will become of me?
They "assessed" me. Forced me to strip, made me touch my toes. It hurt, pain ripping through me. He never looked at me, said the pain didn't matter. He asked if I ever watched the TV. I didn't know how to answer? Was this a new trick? There have been so many. I nodded. He spat the question again "Answer me please". I said I did. The room was small, airless, cameras watched from every angle, moving as I tried to move. Grills at the windows. Grills at the doors. One time, I had to climb a flight of stairs. When I couldn't they stopped my money.
That brown envelope said I could work. They have work programmes now. We work for free, they make us. I don't know when it will end - perhaps it won't You can see my ribs, count them as I bend to reach the lowest shelves. I ate on Monday. Or was it Tuesday? I forget. The Minister said work frees us.
The letters. The endless brown envelopes, The logo makes my heart beat faster. I feel sick, terrified to open each one. The lawyers write to me, the advisers, the courts, the Department, the Providers. I don't understand them all but they never stop, they keep writing until you give up, until you are too worn down.
I saw a paper today. I didn't mean to. There, on the front page, the Department caught someone like me Outside. What was she thinking? Fool. She must have got the new directive? She must know we are not welcome Outside now? Perhaps she stopped opening the Brown Envelopes. I tried that once, but they sent someone to my house. Said I'd get no money at all for 2 weeks. The food ran out after 4 days. I always open the Brown Envelopes now. Eventually.
The paper called us cheats again. Scroungers, shirkers, we are "mugging the state". Every day, there on the front page. They print a telephone number. They get people to call it if they suspect a Useless Eater. Neighbours must report us now. The Department can follow you, take pictures, go through your bins. Check your bank accounts.
They say we're getting ID cards now. They'll list our defects. We must produce them if anyone asks. If a snarling, sneering bulldog of a man attacks me in the street, I must show him my card. The Department said it would make them stop, but sometimes it just makes the beating worse. Sometimes more join in when they see my Useless Eater ID. Another reason not to risk Outside.
I used to use a wheelchair, but it broke and the Department said I couldn't have another. Just as well I suppose. It makes things Outside worse. They said we couldn't afford it. I have to use nappies if I can't get to the toilet now, now one comes to help me get there any more. I live in one room now, use the walls and furniture to get about. It's easier, and saves on heating. The pills are in the drawer. I pretended to take them, but saved them up. The woman who came to change my bed and give me a bath used to make sure I took them, but she doesn't come any more. The Department say I don't need to wash below my waist. I've got lots of pills now. I think I've got enough.
The Department say I have to move. Well, I only use one room now anyway. There aren't many places Useless Eaters like me can go these days. Just the area beyond the river, on the edge of town, where it's cheaper. There are lots of us there. You can tell, because the curtains stay drawn. There is no bus. Another Department stopped them. It's far from the hospital now they've closed the one I used to go to. They stopped my drugs too, but it's OK, because I've got mine, safe in the drawer. They said it wouldn't apply to us, but it does.
I wonder where it will all end? I can't possibly imagine. Can't imagine things getting worse than they are now. I heard that some tried to protest, took to the streets! Outside! All around the world, they say! The police sprayed gas in their faces, hurled them back withwater cannon. Closed their internet sites down so they couldn't tell anyone. Arrested some. One got dragged backwards, tipped out of his wheelchair . I suppose that's why no-one really knows what is happening to us. I suppose they couldn't do all this if they did? Could they?
Where will it end? Will it end?