The last week or so I’ve been a bit preoccupied, but enjoying the popularity of my last post, I had been a bit worried that revealing my inner, sarcastic voice might be too much, but it seems that far from it, I should let it out more often. Perhaps on a day-release basis.
Today, I’m thinking about Rod Liddle. Heard of him? As I type, he’s trending on twitter, and thus probably enjoying his own brand of popularity. He wrote a piece in The Sun that ostensibly attacks those who fraudulently claim benefits. I agree in principle – with the idea that those who fraudulently claim benefits should be put in the stocks. Where Rod and I differ, is his definition of a “not too serious disability”, the idea that there “is a lot of money to be made from being disabled” (excuse me while I cough up my coffee with helpless laughter), that being disabled is somehow fashionable (oh, so that’s why disability hate crime has gone up by 75%. It’s because people are jealous, and nothing to do with inflammatory articles like this), and that 80% of people on ‘incapacity’ are considered fit to work (erm, DLA fraud rate 0.5%, versus barely-qualified tick-boxing bureaucrats using a discredited assessment system? I know who I believe).
As a claimant of DLA, I invited Mr Liddle to spend a day in my shoes, or if he doesn’t like them, my mother’s shoes. My mother is one of those who “gets to park wherever she wants” thanks to a blue badge, and yes she does have motability car (which, by the way, is not free). Here follows a transcript of events during our day together. Enjoy.
*BUZZZZ BUZZZZZ BUZZZZ BUZZZZZ BUZZZZ lights flash*
“Arrrggh! It’s an earthquake!”
Actually, no, it’s my alarm clock. The buzzing is a vibrator - no, not that kind – under my pillow and the light is my clock. Just press the button to turn it off.
“Erm, thanks. What do I do now?”
Why don’t you try getting out of bed? That’s where I usually start.
And do be careful not to walk on your big toes.
Well, a kink in my feet causes you to walk on the insides of your feet, distributing your body weight through your bunions and your big toes. But you see, if you keep doing that, it gets painful, as you noticed. Just make sure you focus on walking on the outside of your feet at all times OK? It’ll also help with the minor kinks in your legs if you walk that way. Just don’t forget yourself.
“All the time? What kinks?”
Well, currently the suspicion is on Hypermobility Syndrome, if so, it would explain a lot, like why my knees can dislocate, why I have raging Iliotibial Band Syndrome, and why I can do this *touches arms with thumbs on same hands while twisting arms around*
Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you, that’s usually just a party trick.
*Later that day*
“Ow, my knee! My feet! My leg!”
Well, you decided you wanted to go shopping. If you’d told me you were planning on doing a lot of walking, I would have given you the knee brace and the walking stick. You’ve got to plan, my friend.
“Argh! What was that?”
You weren’t paying attention when you went down the stairs were you? If you misjudge the depth of a step, there’s a chance your knee will half-collapse, just to spite you. You’ve been warned.
“Hey! Why is that person looking at me like I’m a piece of dirt? What did I do?”
Erm, let me see…. ah yes, seems they asked you politely to excuse them, but you didn’t hear them, and so of course because the world revolves around them, they’ve assumed you’re ignoring them and pushed past you with a dirty look.
“What? But my earmoulds are blue for gods’ sake! Don’t they LOOK?”
Welcome to my life.
“What’s going on?”
“I’m supposed to catch this train, but everyone’s walking off. What do I do?”
Quick, follow them! And see if you can pick out someone who might be easy to lip-read and ask them what the tannoy said.
“What tannoy? How do I know they’re easy to lip-read?”
Did you hear that sort of quiet white noise that sounded vaguely like Sauron gargling with a lawnmower? That’s the tannoy. You can’t, but things to avoid are beards and moustaches. After that it’s pot luck. Good luck!
“What the hell was that?”
Probably feedback from the hearing-aids. Or tinnitus. Or you’re going mad. Don’t worry too much about it.
“What’s this person saying? They keep moving their head around.”
Tell them you need to lip-read and ask them to keep their head still.
“I did, but they’re still doing it.”
Ask them again, and be a bit more firm.
“I don’t want to make a fuss.”
Sometimes you have to. Now ask them again.
“I did, now they’re treating me like it’s my fault.”
Sigh. You’ve got one of the arseholes. OK, there’s two ways you can go about this. Either give up the conversation as a bad job and wander off, which will be interpreted as rude, or try and educate them, possibly ending in a row, which will be interpreted as rude. Which do you want to do?
“Is there anything I can do that won’t be interpreted as rude?”
Not if you don’t understand what they’re saying, no. You’re kind of trapped, really. Rather than put myself through the stress, I prefer to leave it. Unless they have information you need, in which case you’re definitely trapped. Try getting them to write it down.
“I did, but now they’re treating me like I’m completely stupid.”
Hmm. Wait until they’ve finished giving you the info you need, then repeat after me… ready? ‘I am an MA student, and it’s not my fault you don’t know how to communicate with deaf people. May I suggest a deaf and disability awareness course? And incidentally, fuck you.’ Now, run! Hobble, damn it. OK, you had to make a quick exit, but don’t you feel better?
“Oh, what a day. Why do my legs ache so much?”
Because you don’t walk right, even with the knee brace and the stick. Your muscles are always being pulled ever so slightly wrongly, not so much that they’ll do anything dramatic, occasional knee pop notwithstanding, but enough that they don’t like it and complain at the end of the day. I’ve found only two effective remedies; steaming hot baths and painkillers. Mind you, I’m probably not that disabled by your standards. I can still walk, after all.
“Whatever. It’s good enough for DLA, right? Where do I get it? What’s this?”
This is the paperwork. A half-inch thick form, and don’t forget to include submissions from all your consultants and doctors for every condition you cite, of course you’ll have to track them all down first, and they might charge you. but it’s worth it for the DLA right?
“I guess so…”
Well, here is how much DLA I get, and here a recent BSL interpreter invoice. Does anything strike you about them?
This one is per week, and this one is per hour. You’ll notice it’s roughly the same amount. One month’s DLA is about six hours of BSL interpreting, or 16 taxis, since public transport here is crap and I’m hardly going to walk to the train station. Let me know if you can figure out a profit margin. You’ll notice I’m actually losing money, hence why DLA was brought out in the first place. It’s because being disabled is actually bloody expensive. Are you getting it yet?
“Well, bugger me.”
There is someone here who gets more DLA than me though, perhaps you’d like to give her shoes a try before you go to bed?
“All right, then.”
Allow me to present my mother. I’m sure she’d love to let you borrow her shoes for a bit, oh, she’s already gone. Seems she’s enjoying her new-found freedom and decided to visit Westonbirt Arboretum, just for the hell of it.
I know, wild, huh? Anyway, here you go…
*A bit later*
“Wheezes… gasps… wheezes”
Oh, did I not mention? She has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Come on, it’s another step to get upstairs. You can make it.
“Oh, I’m so tired. Those stairs are so far.”
Well, this is what you have to do to get higher rate mobility. You want a car don’t you?
“I suppose so. Can I go to bed now?”
Certainly, just put this mask on first.
“What the hell is this?”
It’s an oxygen / breathing mask. She also has Sleep Apnoea, so if you don’t wear this, you’ll stop breathing. Come on, it’s easy to set the straps. I’ll show you how to switch on the machine…
Oh, what’s that? You’ve had enough of pretending to be disabled? You’d rather be able-bodied? But I thought it was so fashionable! Come on, you said a month, you haven’t even made it one day!
[DISCLAIMER: The above events did not happen. Maybe I'm being unfair to Mr Liddle, maybe he'd last longer than one day. But not as unfair as he's been in his bloody article.]
Liddle’s article – http://politicalscrapbook.net/2012/01/rod-liddle-disabled-the-sun/
Diary of a Benefit Srounger’s great response – http://diaryofabenefitscrounger.blogspot.com/2012/01/sacrifice-more-hang-cheats-out-to-dry.html