2 Apr 2015

A Cautionary Tale...

Thursday May 16th 2019, a lovely day. The sun was shining, we were under a mini-heatwave, which at this time of the year meant the temperature was a pleasant 72°F. The weather was of minor concern to Jason, who had just woken to the sound of his alarm clock. Unemployed for nearly nine months, he still got up with his alarm at 7am, as he didn't fancy slipping into the morass of ennui that some of his mates wallowed in. Steve was actually proud of the fact that he never arose from his pit before noon, the lazy bugger.

Jason awoke with a rare smile on his careworn face, for he was looking forward to the weekend, as a £300 scratchcard win a couple of days ago has given him the wherewithal to take his wife out for a meal for...well, he couldn't remember exactly when it last happened, must've been over a year ago. Linda and Jase both liked a curry, and luckily Linda lived in one of the few conurbations where a few curry houses still existed, as the coalition crackdown on migrant workers had led to thousands of restaurant staff leaving the country, some willingly, some not so, rather than put up with constant suspicion and finger pointing, not to mention the steady withdrawal of benefit entitlement.

Since they lost the flat, Jason didn't get to see Linda much now, as he couldn't afford the exorbitant return train fare charged by the new rail franchise to her parent's place 70 miles away. There's half the win gone already...still let's not worry about that, for after he had given his mum a rare £50 there will still just about be enough left over for the meal, that's the main thing. Food prices had shot up since we left the EU two years ago, and he had wanted to give his mum all the money, as things were not exactly flush for his parents either, since their teachers' pensions had been reduced by 25% as part of a "rationalisation" in the last coalition Budget. "No, you take Linda out, it will do you both the power of good" she had said, bless her.

After that initial and uncommon burst of waking optimism, he got out of bed and promptly nearly fell over, the pain in his ankle reminding him that he couldn't put off going to A&E any longer. He had vainly tried getting a doctor's appointment, armed for disappointment as it was well known that unofficially you only got a appointment now if you were usefully employed and at death's door, or could afford to make a hefty donation to to the "Surgery Roof Restoration Fund" as it was euphemistically known. Jason's anticipated kickback came with knobs on as he thought he heard the disinterested receptionist at the other end of the phone suppress a cynical snort as he described his condition. "Try A&E" she had said and brusquely hung up. That prospect filled Jason with dread, as he resigned himself to losing a day and most of a night by spending the now average 18 hours in the desperately overcrowded and frankly dangerously grubby A&E waiting area. The long waiting time and dilapidated state of his local NHS hospital (at least he had one) being the result of the coalition's cutbacks, privatisation, and draconian immigration restrictions leading to hospitals up and down the land being unable get the staff to do the menial jobs, jobs that only the most desperate of the indigenous population would apply for.

Jason hobbled to the bathroom, only to find it already occupied by his Dad. "Fuck" thought our Jase, as Dad never spent less than half an hour in there of a morning. "It's either cross my legs or go piss in the kitchen sink". Oh the joys of living with your parents, something over half of Jason's 30-something generation were now doing out of economic necessity because housing, both owned and rented was way out of reach for the ever-increasing millions in Jason's jobless position what with the huge reductions in Housing Benefit, as well as being an increasingly unrealistic aspiration for those on the average working wage, which was shrinking every month, that and the burgeoning unemployment rates again thanks to the UK leaving the EU.

Jason was ever grateful to his parents for putting up with him and keeping him housed, fed and clothed after his meagre unemployment benefit stopped three months into his current workless state and he lost the marital flat, Linda's low wage not being anywhere near enough to support them both. Jason was thankful they didn't have kids to worry about on top of all that.

Jason's last job was at the local car plant until it announced that owing to the UK's imminent leaving of the EU it was relocating to Lille in France three months prior to our upping anchor and sailing off into the open arms of the Third World. They did offer Jase a position over there, but he just couldn't see himself putting up with all those Frenchies, a decision he soon came to regret, as France would no longer let him in as a now non-EU citizen. Desperation was taking hold for our hero, and it looked like he now had no choice but to apply for one of the hundreds of very low paid hospital cleaner jobs, assuming he's not forced into one on Workfare. Even if he could get paid a wage for it, the minimum wage had been frozen since the election, and let's face it, it was nowhere near what you could independently live on anyway, especially as the powers that be had recently withdrawn the right to tax credit to people living with their parents.

As Jason limped downstairs towards the kitchen, his bladder by now tripping the light fantastic and praying his Mum wasn't in there, Jason fretted over the circumstances that have led to this coming day out at the hospital. If only the bloody council would fill in those potholes instead of wasting their money on that immigration processing facility, then I wouldn't have tripped while crossing the road last week, he pondered. He could forget suing as that was now a legislative minefield that only the wealthy could afford to negotiate. Still, it could be worse, his mate Dave had been in prison for nearly four months now on suspicion of an unspecified terrorism-related offence, simply because some lackey frightened for their job at PC World found some writings on Arab sponsored militant Islamic groups on his computer when he took it there for some routine maintenance. The fact that Dave was doing a thesis on Middle Eastern politics didn't seem to have any effect on his case, and now we were no longer part of the EU Human Rights Act, the State could do whatever it liked if the "T" word was bandied about enough. They wouldn't even allow visitors, the bastards.

Thankful to arrive at the kitchen to find it empty, Jason stood on the footstool and blissfully relieved himself into the kitchen sink, as he ruminated some more on his unfortunately brainy mate. Dave had always been a leftie, and was forever banging on about justice and equality and other subjects Jason couldn't give a toss about, let alone grasp, but Dave always made him laugh and always got his round in, that was what really mattered after all, eh? Smiling at the memory, Jason recalled that Dave once tried to physically stop him from voting "Out" in the EU referendum by unsuccessfully attempting to lock him in his flat on that fateful Thursday. Fuck, that really tested the friendship that did! For all that, it was slowly dawning on Jason like a sunrise through the thick sulphurous fog of his prejudice-clouded brain that he along with many thousands of other dimwits voting for UKIP in droves back in 2015, thereby giving Farage's poisonous little cabal a big say in the current Tory/UKIP coalition, and then voting "Out" in the EU Referendum were possibly the two biggest mistakes he had ever made in a voting booth...apart from that time he voted after an afternoon session at the pub and threw up all over the ballot box, but that's another story.