Work Capability Assessment

“the accountable familiar qualified professional”

1: Catherine

10th October 2018

Ordsall Health Surgery, on Phoebe Street, is a new build and is laid out like countless GP surgeries that have sprouted up across British metropolitan districts in the last fifteen years to cater for an ageing and generally less-healthy-than-ever-before domestic population. Us. The waiting area is spacious, welcoming and bright. Shadows fall long across the lobby where a communicating door leading to the back of a high street chemist retail unit has been removed to provide direct access for patrons to the drugs they are prescribed. Huge panel windows reveal a perennially inaccessible landscaped inner quad rock garden, therein beckoning large waves of natural daylight to flood the rows of seats where patients wait to be seen after having announced their arrival at the reception desk. The standard auto check-in kiosk is out of order, as too is standard in most GP surgeries and hospitals. A quintessential British feature – new equipment, not functioning, left in-situ with a make-shift OUT OF ORDER note blu-tacked to the screen. Cute in a peculiar British islanders way. Like queues-of-one at taxi ranks and bus stops and our reflexive apologies when somebody rudely barges into us in the steeet. Like Japanese tooth-pick holders in Tokyo city.

The staff at Ordsall Health are great. The service is efficient. Fourteen appointment rooms, seven on each side, lead off one single straight corridor – dim strip lights above me, IKEA beige walls to my left and right, a featureless neat cloud-grey carpet beneath me and frameless frames of picture-postcard-esque stucco side streets at eye level every five or ten feet as I walk the walk. Possibly Cornish or Irish scenes. I remember a day trip to the thatched-cottage village of Cockermouth during a weeks summer holiday in Devon with my parents when I was young. All the rooms leading off contain GP’s be it residential or Locum, and nurses doing flu jabs and periodic health checks. Rarely has my full name scrambled from right to left – delineated in red dots – across the wall-mounted black rectangular monitor in the seated waiting area at a time later than that for which my meeting was originally appointed.

I know my Doctor quite well. When my former GP, Dr. Lucy Fernandez, left the practice to take up a new position in Winton – a town a few miles down the road – Dr. Catherine Saxby and I would chat at length about my whole medical history and my concerns – pretty much like what happened in times gone by. Less of that robotic reflexive reference to the Diagnostics and Statistics Manual and the lazy scribbling out of a prescription for a chemical concoction, and more an old fashioned listening ear delivering a tailor-made service.

I always level with my doctor and my priest. I have always preferred high-level psychotherapeutic counselling rather than a jar of pills. My doctor was well versed in my continuous commitment to that course of treatment in the past set against the context of my career and personal life and the pressures I placed upon myself. Gym for my body. Shrink for my head. It works for me.

Here is my latest sick-note signing me off for a period of 3 months, as is denoted where the red arrow is pointing, and from a start date of the tenth of October 2018 and for “Anxiety with depression” – as you can see stated within the red circle that I have drawn toward the top of the sick note.

This means that, as I write this little tale, on Monday 7th January 2019, it is Catherine’s professional opinion, knowing me as she does, that if I were to be, say, forced to drive a delivery van in rush hour or operate heavy duty machinery or maybe lay out motorway road cones for high speed contra-flows up the M6 at night, then, as this Statement of Fitness For Work document shows, I am still days from it’s expiry – and I might be a danger to both me and any member of the public relying on my accurate execution of responsibilities while holding such an office. You really wouldn’t want to board a flight, short or long-haul, with a mentally consumed person in the runway control room or even in charge of baggage collection at the airport terminal, I’d wager. How about if I were checking the metal content of meat that would go on sale in supermarkets for you to buy, or the chemical mix in the soft drink vats at major global confectioners? I don’t make mention of such roles haphazardly. I’m not pulling them at random from the top of my head in a show of creative talent. All such roles are coming my way as I write.

The story writes itself

My condition for mild anxiety and depression is low end on the mental health spectrum and pretty common these days – a rather standard situation – yet it has presented me with a bona fide ticket to ride, first hand, the patient journey through the DWP and NHS roller coaster corridors of bureaucracy and to witness for myself how mental health in the context of both unemployment welfare and in the context of low earnings manual labour is metered out by the state. All sufferers of any mental condition – from mild to extreme – are subjected to the treatment and communications I am getting. What better way to sympathise than to empathise? Perversely, then, having signed off on outing myself as both a Universal Credit claimant and a mental health patient, I came to see my current position less as a predicament and more of a golden and for, me, personally, a very necessary opportunity to live as many others live and have always lived. And always will. While I was all cosseted and entitled as a very comfortable home owner living in London twenty years ago, I had no idea this world even existed. Flash forward and now my eyes are open. Suddenly I realised that if I could document everything and write it up into a book, I would not be narrating a story as much as being the story and producing an evidence-based diary of my life. For any writer – this is living the dream. Real wealth. The book writes itself.

I thanked Dr Saxby and left the Phoebe Street complex, headed for home and duly ordered to submit the above paperwork to the DWP at my next appointment.

The supply-chain system

I couldn’t have known it at the time but this note would be over-ruled as null and void, even before I had a chance to submit it. And I would be frog-marched into the market place. The same market place where you go about your daily shop. The restaurants where you eat. The make-up you buy from high street shops. And the purity refiners in your local desalination and sewage plants that directly feed into the mineral content of your tap water.

Oh, you didn’t know? Yeah, turns out your vital supply chains are populated with unfit workers officially diagnosed as such by professional GP’s but over-ruled by faceless suits at the DWP who, when disaster strikes – deaths from customers with allergies upon eating contaminated food and multi-car pile ups on the highways – remain conveniently faceless and therefore just beyond the scope of prosecution. Jeez I hope I haven’t spoilt your appetite or your commute.

Welcome to the strategic, highly planned Machiavellian world of Work Capability Assessment.

Le Corbusier & I

Yet on this fine day, with my sick note acquired, I put the radio app on my ear-phones and headed for the subway passes that connect Ordsall to my home town of Pendleton – a 1960’s subterranean labyrinth leading back up to Heartbreak Hill. At no point in this two mile journey – at least while at street level, did I lose sight of my lounge and bedroom windows. Being a Brutalist architecture fan I especially love all things modernist. The icing on the cake for me – the coup de grace – is the near extinct family of survivors – the original concrete high rise blocks. The direct offspring of Le Corbusier’s Utopian vision.

My condo is two hundred and fifty feet in the air and while I love her dearly I sense that the world at large has turned its back on such long fallen projects of innocent optimism. She winks at me in the deep distance. As I walk, the silvery autumn light falls away, permitting my distant windows to emit a soft glow-pad of sandy yellow like a deep-seated homely smile that beckons me through the opacity of freezing foggy air. A distant camp fire. A friendly nod. Tunnel lights. The promise of warmth. I hear an old Pet Shop Boys song in my head. There in the distance, like a roll-call of all my urban dreams. Shunned and neglected and unloved by almost everyone else. Yet to me, her beauty has depth and dimension and a deep-seated intelligence. An elegance born of a shattered shot at new hope that makes her, for me, the perfect companion. As if back in the schoolyard when I was a kid – she looks across at me like the nerdy quiet girl with horn rimmed glasses that nobody else wanted to kiss.

Wherever I go in Manchester, she sees me. High-rise living is commonplace these days but Heartbreak Hill reminds me of the old Hyde Park estate in Sheffield or Red Road in Glasgow and The Byker Wall in Newcastle. All were somehow permanently carved into the distant horizon. Day and night, their shadows and their outline shape grew into the very fabric of the city in question. Embedded and familiar as old furniture. Now there’s character!

The new stuff going up is just homogenous steel and glass lego-land CAD fodder. I should know. I spent most of my adult life living in it. Packed tight up against each other, block after block, like sardines in a tin. Such claustrophobic mapping matching the urgency of developers to cream the real estate market in its latest bull run. No class. It’s all about the money. Yet, back in the day, good old Modernism grabbed geographical promontories, escarpments and city boundary hills to make its massive concrete and breeze block statements. Landmark design. Sturdy as coastal lighthouses. There was a pride back then from architects to go out on a creative limb. To take risks. And to shout their design art from the rooftops. A sophistry that has long since been drowned out by sheer commercial ambition.

My flat and the building she lives in represent the very last remnants of a long dead era. One that may never breathe life again. There’s a haunting, prosaic, stoic fragility to Heartbreak Hill. This old vertical ship is in my soul.

4 months earlier – 26th June 2018

My sick note was over-ruled – mine and many thousands of very ill people who are running things in your society as you go about your day despite the fact that they are medically proven to be unfit to do so – courtesy of a sinister government process known as Work Capabilty Assessment. In the Kafka-esque arena of acronyms and euphemisms, Work Capability Assessment or WCA for short, is executed by the Health Assessment Advisory Service, or HAAS. HAAS is located, for people in my area, in a building in central Manchester called Albert Bridge House.

I just get mild depression and intense bouts of anxiety – nothing to write home about – but many people I know on the block are forced into public infrastructure and safety jobs whilst heavily medicated on antipsychotics and the lithium end of anti-depressants, directly against the advice of their GP. This never makes the headline news on your television.

On the 26th June I received this letter from HAAS about WCA. I’ve red-inked the date and below that I have circled the bit where I am told to provide a host of documents, should I choose to back my case up, with the specific stipulation that the certificates and communications that I provide must be originals. This is important as you’ll learn up ahead. The deadline I am given to complete the task is July 27th – which is in the text of the letter if you care to read it.

3 weeks later: 18th July 2018

Then, the heat goes up. Still nine days from the stipulated deadline I get another letter sounding all urgent. This new letter is headed “We need your questionnaire urgently” in bold type – which is simply untrue but serves its purpose of making me feel like I have stepped out of line. It contains the euphemism “Your Universal Credit Payment may be affected” – a pretty firm warning that I could be out on the streets if I fail to comply. Arbeit Macht Frei. This letter, like its predecessor, insists that any documentation I send back with the completed questionnaire to support the case that my doctor knows how to do her job and that I am in fact genuinely ill, must be originals and not copies. And the destination of my submission is stated as the same Albert Bridge House. Here it is:

I have taken the liberty of circling a few things in red ink. The date – the 18th of July is a good way off the deadline of 27th July as earlier mentioned. I am getting a “final warning” styled take-down for no reason. Imagine receiving an “urgent” reminder to pay your electricity bill or your cable TV bill a whole nine days before it is due with a warning that your service may be cut if you do not comply. You’d process the insult by changing your supplier, because you have the leverage of buyer power. Who else but the down-at-heel and vulnerable have to put up with such vulgar psychological bullying?

I have an inclination as to why state agencies may be acting thus. They are creating a bread crumb trail for immediate sanctions should the benefits recipient step out of line by as much as one single day, or in the case of appointments, by as much as half an hour. Having interviewed sanctionees, from a young gentleman in a neighbouring block called Ollie to a single mum in her early twenties I met at a Job Centre recruitment day, called Chelsea, I know this to be true. Think about it: who emits a continuous stream of warnings and final warnings but those who intend to enforce them with haste ? It’s but a way for DWP to cover its tracks, legally.

There is, of course, a much simpler reason in addition to this: the classic enabler. They are doing it because they can and because they think all members of the British underclass are too weak and shame-addled to tell people like you. They are gambling on the probability that I will not call them to account and go public. They are placing all their chips on red. On the media-enforced supposition that all signed-up members of Benefits UK are smoking so much weed they don’t know their own postcode. The “getting away with it” fallacy, I call it. Endemic institutional discrimination. Embedded as the steel piling foundations of my high rise world.

My completed questionnaire and supportive (original copies) documentation:

Like stick figures in a Lowry painting, lines of identically dressed people lean symmetrically into the Mancunian rain and march in unison through the large gated entrance to Albert Bridge House. This futile subconscious alignment – this harmonious programmed defeated existence is ample testimony, as well as a contribution, to the somnambulistic state of a tired metropolis. A damning indictment of the hollow ambition of modern globalised first worlds. That grubby neon-strip sales pitch now glistening with nothing but the fake gold of fools. Money money money money money money money money.

July 19th 2018

On July 19th 2018 I completed the questionnaire on my computer, went to the library to get paper print-outs of the pages, applied my signature and date to the contractual end sheet and then , instead of popping the whole thing in the post, I jogged into Manchester with the submission in one hand and I personally delivered the thing over the desk at HAAS reception and while I was at it, got my self a stamped receipt as proof of submission. Here is an image of that receipt.

Below I have included a couple of pages from the questionnaire itself. Most pages are concerned with very basic physical abilities such as tying your own shoe laces and cooking your own food and your ability to take public transport without a personal carer and dress yourself of a morning. But under pressure from social justice lobby groups and the mental health sector, DWP had lately added onto the end a couple of open ended questions concerning mental health. I filled them in as honestly as I could, without understating anything despite the magnetic pull of potential shame and without overstating anything despite the siren temptress of personal favour. I made sure that any claim I made as to my illness was fully backed up with original copies of third party evidence from psychologists, the HR teams of my most recent full time employer and my GP’s. Where I listed the medications I take, I provided prescriptions as part of my submission.

In the purple section of this part of the questionnaire I was invited to provide details of my illness, its manifestations, its likely causes and its timeline history. If you read it you’ll note that I have written bluntly and openly, exposing my personal details in a bid to assist the Work Capability Assessment process.

Likewise, in the parts of the questionnaire that dealt with my physical abilities, I was equally up front and made no secret of the fact that on the physical plane I am extremely fit in every sense, running over six hundred miles a year for fun and using the gym for lean muscle build on a near-daily basis in the long term. I described my healthy eating habits, my high energy levels, the fact that I hardly ever get so much as a cold and my recent stint doing ten hour night shifts of continuous heavy lifting – not so much keeping up with the men who were twenty years my junior as much as showing them how it’s done.

Here is another page from the same questionnaire that I submitted to HAAS on the 19th July 2018. You’ll see that I have listed my medications for asthma and for low level anxiety I included the things that you can buy off the shelf in most countries – benzos or “valium” as the Americans are fond of calling it. When my GP refuses to prescribe me valium I buy it off the internet from abroad for personal use, using my UK real address and ID – which is perfectly legal by the way – and then I take the product with me to my next appointment with Catherine (my GP) and she’s cool with that. She is lent on by big pharma to restrict valium and push anti-depressants in a commercial tie-up. If you are deadly honest with your doctor, you’ll see that, by way of return, many of them are deadly honest back. A new kitchen. A new car. An extension on the holiday home conservatory. Private school for the kids. It’s amazing what doubling the dose of a patients Xanax, Citalopram or Mirtazapene can do for your private life, should you happen to be a member of the BMA. If you ever wondered why your GP often offers to double your dose of Citalopram from 2mg to 4mg even when you report that it is working fine, wonder no more. I have it from the horses mouth, as it were. If you don’t believe me that’s cool but maybe research the subject in a little more detail. I recommend renegade Dr Ben Goldacre’s award winning book Bad Pharma: How Medicine is Broken or watch his TED talk on YouTube.

When I worked at Zen Internet in Rochdale, I gave permission for the HR team to speak directly with my GP. For a year or two I paid privately for a psycho-analyst. I had weekly fifty-minute hour sessions with a highly reputed psychotherapist in Stretford in Manchester.

A private therapy invoice

It was just something I wanted to do to try and improve my mental outlook and eliminate aspects of my behaviour that I had come to learn, from close friends and family, were a little disturbing. I was highly agitated for no reason. People were reporting that I was aggressive in my manner and sometimes verbally offensive and just rather unpleasant in waves of emotional intensity that left as quickly as they had arrived, often without my noticing them. I also gave my employer permission to talk directly with my therapist too. I signed off on what was then the Data Protection Act privacy privileges (Now the General Data Protection Regulations or GDPR) to enable these professionals to discuss my health and share my health records without reference to me. I felt that this was in my own interest and I trusted all those involved very much. I knew they were trying to help me and that they could indeed help me if I was courageous enough to let them and I was prepared to invest the effort that was required from me. A kind of long-haul and rather exhausting team effort. At all times I felt very lucky to have this type of support to hand.

The image below is taken from a letter sent from my employer to my GP in 2013 that only came to light, for me, a couple of months ago, when I used GDPR to get copies of my medical records. I’ve encircled the date and the blurb where my employer describes my erratic behaviour at work to my doctor. They are both trying to work out what the best course of action would be to get me back to good health.

I submitted a total of twelve original documents to HAAS at Albert Bridge House. I’ve just included copies of a few of those here – to give you an idea of my efforts to assist the process by disclosing and communicating as requested. Some of the documents concern my current course of psychotherapy and how I qualify for it, lest you were thinking that most of the stuff here is a little long in the tooth. I am able to show, and have done so, that my condition is ongoing.

For example, here (right) is a letter dated 5th February 2018, which is only four months old by the time HAAS takes an interest in me. It is from Greater Manchester Mental Health and specifically from the Primary Care Psychological Therapies department. It confirms that I am on a waiting list for psycho-therapy. Now. Contemporary, as it were.

So it would appear that against a backdrop of such matters dating from 2013, both my GP and my psychoanalyst are signing off on the fact that the issues are still in hand.

Then, in early September, I was invited in to see the team at Albert Bridge House to undertake a face-to-face interview. They wrote to me and said that they had received my submission and a meeting was the next step.

So Albert Bridge House, here we come. I put a shirt and tie on and turn up as requested.




“the patsy”

2: David

Like an A&E ward on a bank holiday weekend night, Albert Bridge House on the inside is bereft of the cool, collected, clean Modernist lines and pastel tones projected from a view of the outside. The woman behind the desk – which is sealed off by a glass screen like bank tellers used to be, is rather intimidating. She screams at the small posse of foreign people that present themselves to her as I look on that if they cannot speak English and require a translator they should have requested one on the website. Somehow, I’m not sure this helps. They don’t know what she is saying but they sure pick up the incandescent glare and impatient tone. Negative energy fields don’t get lost in translation.

Forty or fifty people sit close up on five rows of bolted-down chairs. Both water coolers lack water tanks above them. Off to my right, on the edge of a window ledge, unannounced, a jug of water accompanies a stacked pile of thin blue disposable beakers. I pour myself a drink and take a seat. The windows are small and have prison bars across them. This feels pretty much like a Reporting Centre where newly arrived “unprocessed” immigrants into the UK have to check-in every week. Even though it is not one. I feel like a criminal. Like I have been tagged on a curfew. Lord only knows what most of these other people are made to feel like. Yet I already sense the shame seeping into the air. I am white-skinned and savvy to the system. I speak English. Just imagine being in their position. This is utterly disgraceful and entirely strategic. Right wing and racist. It makes me want to run around the waiting area apologising to my fellow brothers and sisters. Yet somehow I think they’ve had their fill of white English people postulating at them in wide-eyed bouts of confrontation.

Right: From a nearby Michelin-starred restaurant – Albert Bridge House falls away in a sheer cliff-face of Modernist glass and breeze block. Never judge a book by its cover.

The Interview

Doctor David no-surname sits behind a big rectangular desk in a square room with green walls and one small window. Dull light that penetrates the glass doesn’t quite make the far corners of the room we sit in. Alone together.

“My name is David and I am your Doctor for this session. I need to make an assessment of you for your Work Capability Assessment.” He speaks firmly and calmly. No smile.

“But surely you have seen the documents I submitted?” I ask.

“No” Says David. “I am just here to take some information from you and pass on my report to the department.”

“But this is where I was told to send them. Surely, this is the department?” I proffer

“So let’s make a start” he says, ignoring my line of enquiry.

In a weird self-mocking parody of everything that had taken place to date in the form of written correspondence, David then asks me the exact same questions that I had completed on the forms that I had submitted to this very building.

“Can you convey a simple message to strangers?” Yes. You might want to run that one by your receptionist. I keep that line to myself.

“Can you raise at least one of your arms above head height” Yes. I resist the temptation to prove it.

“Does your vision prevent you from finding your way around familiar places?” No. Although how would I know the place is familiar if I can’t see it? Again, beyond the one word answer which I provide out loud, I somehow manage to subdue the rest as thought energy. I think of people who exclaim “I can’t read my own handwriting!”. So how do you know it’s yours then?

Anymore silly questions on the agenda David? Do I snore in my sleep? Recall any event from the year before you were born?

I wait for the hidden camera crew to declare themselves, exposing some cheap media gag and the punchline. But they don’t materialise and the punchline is not forthcoming. And the realisation dawns: I am the punchline.

This goes on for about twenty minutes. Finally, when I was asked if I had any additional information to add, I told David about my mental health problems and the correspondence from HR teams and my GP’s that I had really hoped he would already have been briefed on as it rather made all what we had just done entirely superfluous. He smiled and re-iterated his position as The Patsy. I was escorted from the building at the end of this session.

To this day I still do not know where all my valuable original documentation has gone and I have a sneaky filling it will not be coming back to me.

The state has confiscated the heart of my case in a stealthy back-handed cheap move. Somehow I figure that I am not the only one. I feel like a fraud. Like a fly-on-the-wall. But as time goes by and I weave deeper into this web of state iniquity I feel less bothered by my status. More still, I feel grateful to be given this opportunity to report.


“the accomplice”

3 Lauren

Lauren is a para. She reminds me of Suzi Zucchani who I wrote about in the book. The new breed of PR-savvy staff at the Job Centre whose job it is to float around and show up in timely fashion when a “customer” is showing signs of sailing too close to the wind. Lauren hovers between job centres like a military drone.

Soon after I receive my verdict from HAAS that I have scored a clean 0 out of 15 on ALL of the “descriptors” as defined in their assessment of me – including the mental health one about being totally OK at working alongside other people – I am called to attend a Job centre appointment. And like an echo of the incident a year earlier when I had complained about staff behaviour, I was told at the last moment by my normal job coach that I would today be seeing Lauren. I guess a second round with Suzi would be a little too obvious. These guys are like a new breed of mitigation counsellors. Hazard avoidance specialists. Pest control. Well spoken. Not a local accent in earshot. A little smarter in the dress-sense. And a little more practiced in bureaucratic speak. It falls off the tongue like a default language. English coming a poor second.

For example, Lauren is the first and only person I have ever met who casually drops the word “descriptor” into the conversation. She accentuates the first vowel and I mis-understand. I hear “de-scriptor” as in a script writer erasing their work. Later, at home, I look the word up and the penny drops. “Ah! Descriptors.” I say to myself. But I’m a wordsmith and this is the Job Centre confounding me. Aren’t they meant to be, kinda, layman accessible and comprehensible in a work-a-day sense? I think of all the other poor people she will be speaking to each day and I am incensed that Lauren is no doubt trained to communicate like this to the lower working classes. It is intended to intimidate. I mean, come on!

I don’t bother to express my opinion of the result and the detail of the content contained within the result “letter” with Lauren as I sense a degree of futility in walking that path. Although I do so love the HAAS findings that I am perfectly healthy in every single respect. I re-read it for the poetic irony. I can’t resist sharing it with you. The red arrow on the image above is where DWP says that it has found, given my submission and my interview that I fail to qualify for either of the “limited capability” for work elements. In other words, I am not either properly ill or even a little bit ill.

Jeez! Sack my Doctor, my therapist and reprimand the entire HR team at my former employer who are all clearly playing some depraved conspiracy game to fool the state that I am a little unhinged. What utter bastards!

On the second image, above, I have circled the bit where HAAS details all of my physical abilities as a reason for its decision. Kinda turning a blind eye and rewarding my honesty with a stitch up job. “Gary has a bath or shower every day. He does his own laundry. He deals with his own bills. “ I’m pretty sure most serial killers would pass this excuse for a quality threshold of fitness for work in the community at large. Suddenly my Arbeit Macht Frei comment earlier doesn’t sound quite so inappropriate.

The column of clean zero’s above reflects my physical health and that’s totally fair enough. The very fact that such inane questions should constitute way over ninety percent of the entire assessment is more of a moot point. The pass threshold is so low that most critical ward patients of your average hospital would churn out the same results.

But given the strength of my evidence in terms of third party professional submissions on my erratic behaviour, upsetting people and intimidating people on bad days, with reports of potential violence and actual aggression, I love best of all the HAAS findings specifically relating to my behaviour with other people. As encircled in red in the ultimate image I am including in this little tale of the professional, the patsy and the accomplice.

“You behave in a way that would be acceptable at work. Score 0 of 15”.

I began to wonder what would happen if I assaulted someone in a work environment when my GP, psychotherapist, analytical therapist and most recent employer have been warning that I might. I began to wonder who the victim could sue. Who caused this?

Surely the government?

Indeed, this is a line of inquiry I aim to pursue in the course of 2019. How many deaths and serious injuries are the upshot of medically signed off people being forced into the workplace? Speeding trams overturning. Safety checks left uncompleted. Poisonings. Faulty fittings. Incorrect counts. Adult products being sold to minors. Contaminations. Staff invested with public safety responsibilities turning up at work inebriated. And just plain old violent assaults. I began to wonder how many of such cases are actually, really, the direct cause of the state and its WCA HAAS policy. Entirely censored by the mainstream media.

One thing that all GP’s know about mentally challenged people is that, compared to the mentally healthy masses, they tend to consume alcohol at inappropriate times. It is known as “self-medication” and I should know a little about that. Ladies and gentlemen, please fasten your seat belts for take-off. After we have made thirty-thousand feet, I’ll be sending Gary round with some alcoholic beverages. He may have had a few of them already for himself and please don’t mock him. He has unresolved issues which occasionally manifest in violent outbursts. And besides, he’ll be landing the plane later so I’d prefer him to retain a balanced countenance. Enjoy your flight!

Is there a huge story just beneath the story that we think is the story? A hidden multi-party lawsuit of such proportions it makes Erin Brockovich look like a pay day loan? Perhaps I can find out. Somewhere, I say, a human being is accountable. May be I can find them and post their photo up here ? Is it the government Cabinet Member of Parliament for DWP or is it a cabal of unaccountable civil servants. The latter, I’d wager. Or both. I sense that I’m gonna have to dig deep.

Who has blood on their hands ? Perfect crimes, they say, are the ones that don’t even get registered as such. No legal come-backs. No TV news coverage. It’s kinda cute, don’t you think ? When all arms of the establishment come together in harmony. Boy that’s beautiful!

I wasn’t quick enough to record Lauren advising me not to appeal against my HAAS decision (an illegal act) nor her shameless admission that if I order a Mandatory Reconsideration of the initial decision it will just come back exactly the same as in fact there is no genuine reconsideration. Flagrant illegalities. And why not? Who can blame them? When you can push people around so easily without any come back, bullies tend to strengthen their resolve and flex all the more.

I leave Lauren to it and head off back to Heartbreak Hill.

Sure enough, when I decide to order Mandatory Reconsideration of my decision, the girl on the phone from DWP, who refuses to tell me her surname despite her demanding that I tell her my Mother’s maiden name and nationality, demands that I send her my original documentation. I point out that she already has all my originals as her department insisted on original copies for my first round of submissions. Like a ‘bot, she simply repeats that demand.

Now, who in society has duplicate originals? What even is a duplicate original? Only the most vulnerable and least able to defend themselves are treated in this way. And I’d wager it is entirely strategic.

Three tales. Sixteen images of supporting evidence. One nasty little right-wing device. And all kept just out of your sight. Because, odds on, if your television doesn’t tell you it is happening, it is not happening, right?

And yet…..

Join the conversation. What do you think?


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