Privatised Job Centres And The Work Delusion. A Universal Credit Crisis.

Extract: From Under A Cloud On Heartbreak Hill. Coming soon.
All names of people cited in this extract are real. 

Standguide, Staffline, Adidas & The Work Company 

It is Tuesday 5th December 2017. I am doing a job search on the communal computers in the red- brick complex of the Salford Foyer. I am at Standguide under threat of a benefits sanction. These days they require me to do a job search in front of them. There is a distinct lack of trust in me which underpins this order. The first terminal I log on to is not connected to the internet. I have more luck with the PC to my left (there are about a dozen terminals in the room and the room is empty but for me). I open a job spec, read it, and it advises me to email the HR team for further details. I then quickly discover that all webmail sites are blocked – Hotmail, Google, iCloud. So I cannot do anything. I can view the history of the jobs I have applied for. But I cannot apply for jobs – which is the precise function of my attendance. 

I walk about the complex and accost random members of staff. Martine on reception helps me out but she’s clearly very busy with her own workload and cannot help me with this IT matter anyhow. 

After sixty-five minutes of being in a room where I am unable to make job applications, I raise the issue with Stacey, my long-term contact. The iMac on which I am writing this very book, with its fibre connection and office desk space in my disturbance-free private flat is but one Tesco’s car park away from me. I can see the Heartbreak Hill block from where I sit at this unforgiving, locked-up PC through a window fitted with a security cage. It seems incredibly dumb to leave my private high- end facility and to sit here with this unworkable one. I get that StandGuide wants me to prove that I am making job applications of a certain quality and quantity. I politely make the point that every single application and progress action has been precisely logged every week for years into an online database facility which the “other” job centre can access. I am told that this job centre (the private one) does not have access to that. So it seems the burden of proof is mine to shoulder. Lazy and idle until proven industrious. I submit to the attrition. I spent a good chunk of my redundancy cheque on my own desktop computer. Each month I buy home insurance and a fast data line. Yet here I am. 

Having completed my one-hour lock-in, I make to leave and as an aside I ask Stacey to check if I can bring a neighbour with me to an employer recruitment day that is scheduled for the following lunchtime. Lee is not registered with Job Centre but he’s a worker and keen to get in at the Adidas factory a couple of miles down the road from where we live. Adidas are using a recruitment agency called Staffline to undertake a recruitment drive for many new zero-hours workers. I want Lee to come along. Yet, when Stacey places a call to Staffline to clear this, we learn that the recruitment session has moved forward from 12 pm tomorrow to 10 am today. I check my phone for the time. It is already 10:10 am. Then it all goes a bit Frank Spencer. Roll up folks, it’s comedy hour! 

The Innovation Forum 

Stacey knocks me seven quid from the petty cash, promptly signed off and dished out by Martine, and a cab is called for me. I don’t have a say in this. I will be making a very late attendance at a meeting and that’s that. This is now panic stations. We speed across to The Innovation Forum – one of those vanilla business parks with the grandiose names that have in the last ten years become the hallmark of modern vanilla strip-mall Britain. All glass atria and wooden mock Skandi panelling on the outside. An exterior skin of sleek promise. An army of bolshy sales staff with no manners and bunches of biros and paper application forms on the inside, ready to scalp the hoards of zero-hours potentials that get shepherded through the double electric swing doors. Everyone I encounter is too busy or too tired or too target driven or too passive or too dumb to receive in earnest the sweet, sweet irony. You know, here in the “innovation” forum. 

Due to DWP staff incompetence I am twenty-five minutes late for a meeting that I understood got underway at 10:00. Why did they taxi me to a meeting for which I am really quite late? Simple. Because they are paid an introduction fee for my presence. I announce myself at the main reception but before I can finish speaking a young man in chinos, a jersey and spectacles hastily envelopes my shoulders in his out-stretched arms. He softly yet swiftly glides me away to the airport hanger-styled waiting area where another four people are bent low over a central coffee table, scribbling away on application forms. This is the post-digital form of data capture in 2017. Staffline, like Louise Croston at VSO, shoves a bundle of questions in front of me with a pen and orders me to fill it in, quick as I can, no questions asked, while in the fore of my mind I recall the Job Centre allocating this very meeting a mandatory status. Which means, bluntly, give this strange person all of your personal details now, or risk having your benefits cut and being evicted. 

The idiots are winning

11: Are you currently experiencing any health problems as a result of being pregnant?

Is it me or are some of these questions, by their very nature, dodgy for legal reasons? Couched in a concern-for-health framework, Question 11 in this shot, which is the form that Staffline asked me to complete for the Adidas role, about pregnancy, is surely pushing the boundaries of  acceptability and is also surely outing the employer as discriminatory at least in its initial intent. Maybe paranoia outreaches me now. The answer to Question 7 is very easy. Question 7 asks: Do you have any condition that causes difficulty sleeping? Yes. Exposure to the idiots. And the idiots are winning.

Sarah Whetstone 

Having disclosed my address, mobile and bank details, I am then accosted in a very forced-but-friendly way by a lady who walks toward me from the centre’s main thoroughfare with a stern intent. I watch her approach with misgivings that I have not the time to develop before she is upon me. 

What’s your name love?” she smiles at me like an air hostess. “I’m Gary” I reply. 

Come with me“. She actually physically stewards me into an office of admin staff with a few chairs as a reception area. I presume she is a colleague of the chap in specs who led me with such zeal to the zany pre-flight waiting-area seats some moments ago. It’s like a comedy farce. Everything is frantic. I feel both guilty and stressed for no apparent reason. Perhaps this is the idea. 

Don’t worry. This is voluntary” are her final words to me before she leaves me in the charge of a bewildered chap who is busy at his workstation. These words make no sense whatsoever yet I am not given a chance to ask questions. I am not in a dialogue with anyone. I am literally being “placed” in certain office spaces while unidentified adults lean into each other to converse in a whisper. 

Don’t worry. This is voluntary. Sounds a little bit like “trust me, I’m a doctor.” Not one ounce of this experience feels voluntary. None of it, in fact, is. Such considerations enter and flee my brain in nanoseconds. 

Everything is becoming a bit of a blur. I have now told two people my name, upon them requesting it, and neither has had the decency to tell me theirs. I feel like fodder. The cattle in Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation. If I get down on all fours and moo in a drawn-out bovine yawn will everyone present come clean about this agri-business set-up through which I am being fed? 

It turns out that the guy in glasses is called Peter Blasco and this new lady who whisked me away is called Sarah Whetstone. Peter is an employee of Staffline but Sarah is not. She works for a company called The Work Company although when I ask her who she works for she tells me that they are called “The Growth Company.” Welcome to the privatised welfare sector. All these little ten-a-penny “agencies” are just private businesses grabbing at the public purse. Treating me and my kind like a herd of animals. Round them up, grab their data, collect a fee. I rather like being at the coal face of this madness. I soak it up and think of this book and the new material that endlessly pours forth. For this I am grateful. Or is it nothing but Stockholm Syndrome?

Gary Smith

Yet, Sarah Whetstone (I only found out her name by asking her colleague who is also called Gary) really is beginning to annoy me. She is smiley and polite but the whole “come with me and ask no questions” charade is patronising, to say the least. Jobless adults are treated like infants in the presence of grown-ups. 

Gary Smith is the first polite and professionally competent person I meet so far. He gets up from his workstation and shakes my hand. I say “I still do not know who you guys are and why I am here.”

Gary replies “We’ll go outside and talk“. And with that, it suddenly feels like a scene from a John le Carré novel. If Gary had only mumbled that last line into the lapel of his jacket it wouldn’t have felt incredulous. At this point, being abducted by the secret service would be a real boon to my spirits. 

Can you make me a coffee first?” I ask. He pauses. He hears it like it sounds – a very unusual request – you know, jobless humans acting with self-respect and making demands like working humans – but he yields and asks me if I take sugar. I get seated back by the door which I note has the words “The Work Company” stickered across the lower pane. In yonder jobless wilderness, here we find the least appropriately named business imaginable. Orwellian art-house, surely. This whole building could be an Emin exhibition at Tate Modern. “Innovation Forum” by Tracey Emin Wins Turner Prize. This headline has wings. 

Gary Smith then goes to sit back at his workstation, facing me in the guest waiting area and continues to work. I watch him and count three minutes on my phone. I have been dragged away from what I was taxi’d here for, without any explanation or even human introductions, and I am sat like a child or freshman or apprentice on their very first day. Feeling like the teas-maid or Mr Cellophane. He’s clearly not making my coffee – sugar or not – unless he has a very fancy PC on his desk that produces beverages. If it exists, I am not familiar with this version of Windows. 

Eventually, I make my point and The Work Company gets the size of me. It lets me go, I complete the Staffline paperwork and leave. Nobody says goodbye or stands up or shakes my hand or even acknowledges me upon departure. All these workers and all such staff in the privatised wel- fare sector are abysmally trained, untrained or just damn lazy. Everything is slipshod. It is my pleasure to politely but firmly make it known to them that this is the state of affairs. 

Sarah Whetstone’s holiday brochure smile and sunshine demeanour quickly transform into a scowl when I let her know she has rudely interrupted me from my arranged appointment by literally physically pulling me away while I was in the very middle of a meeting with another company entirely, failing to introduce herself, plonking me down in the waiting area of a different office and then simply walking away to leave me wholly at a loss and wondering what the hell was going on. 

I was not rude.” she asserts in response, all gaiety and charm now a distant memory – the grittier truth shining through. The irony entirely lost on her. I fail to respond and leave her words hanging simply to avoid a scene, although I am quite furious and I sense that she senses it. 

The Work Company gets a fee for training unemployed people in the basics – like “What is a mouse?” IT skills, personal hygiene and time management. Ms Whetstone, as far as I can gather, has worked out that a good way of getting new heads onto training seats and making her cash tills ring, so to speak, is just wading out into the common areas of Innovation Forum and grabbing the Staffline applicants. A nice smile. A charming few words. Who wouldn’t fall for Sarah’s ruse? She’s not happy when I tell Peter that I take exception to her manner and style. Her pleasing countenance fades and she gets quite feisty. I could rise to the occasion but for me, these people hit way below the intellect and in some way or other they would find it within themselves to earn extra salary bonuses by sanctioning my Universal Credit. Recall Chelsea Shannons’ story. I leave the building and walk home. Raped of my personal data for nothing in return by a bunch of cheap sales target rabble. Again. 

Peter Blasco

I state my availability as “nightshifts” on the Adidas warehouse application form. Nights pay at £8.65 per hour compared to a daily rate of £7.50. I am told by Peter that I will get at least thirty- two hours per week with a promise of overtime if I pass the induction period. I don’t ask or get told how long this induction period is for. 

I quickly calculate that on the base rate for nights this would gross me £276.80 per week, or an annual income of £14.393.60. This comes in at £1,199.47 per month and this is the unit of measurement that allows me to make a direct comparison with my existing Universal Credit payment – which is a monthly payment of £729.48 as I may have mentioned earlier. Of course, this is on the basis of my salary being tax-free – and so this would only be my take home pay (thereabouts) on the first ten thousand pounds worth of earnings, and national insurance deductions, of a sum I could not deduce from the top of my head, would accrue from day one. 

When basic rate tax kicks in and NI continues to deduct, I would be bringing home £959 (after 20% tax) less National Insurance – so I figured that would come in at about £900. So I would be working nights in a factory five days a week for a gain of about two hundred pounds a month. If you then deduct work clothes, work travel and work food I do not think I am being a drama queen when I announce that this job has actually no material (financial) advantages. But it would steal all of my time and energy. The experience of working at Adidas would be great material for this book – but would I have the time or headspace to even keep writing? 

If you are of the opinion that people in my position should not be comparing a benefits payment against an earned wage and calculating the differential as the real wage, you are simply coming at it all wrong. So here is my reality check for you: the “benefits” label is a misnomer. Firstly, there is no benefit. This is not free money. It is all used up on heating. shelter and food and still leaves me short of heating and food for at least one week per month. And don’t even think about laundry and new clothing. So first off, the benefit is, per se, way too low for any human being. It is derisory and insulting. Secondly, if a multi-million dollar international company is offering me a payment in return for fifty to sixty hours per week of hard manual labour that only over-reaches the aforementioned excuse for a human benefits payment by a few pounds and pence – they are engaged in nothing short of white slavery and this should be illegal.

The whinging benefits recipient is not out of line. Everything and everyone else in the employment chain is. And if you can’t see that – if you have been co-opted by the system to such a degree that you can’t even see what is staring you in the face – then so are you.

If you starved your pet dog and cut it’s access to heat and shelter this would be deemed as abuse and neglect. Yet with humans it appears that the accepted lexicons are “benefit”, “support” and “welfare”.

The Adidas dress code

I was precariously balanced with the recruitment agency’s application form sliding off my lap, painstakingly completing the block boxes with a black biro pen. Peter Blasco, the Staffline representative was kneeling down to meet the eye level of another such applicant – a lady about half my age who was sat opposite me and executing the same task. It was a one-on-one kind of “T&C’s” chat that Peter was to reel off to each of us before we left the session and handed him our completed documentation – after which we would wait to receive a telephone call from his agency about progressing the application further – meeting the employer, no doubt. 

A whole bunch of adults leaning over to write with a pen onto paper forms on a very low-slung coffee table with the host literally kneeling on the carpet to talk to each of us. Fawlty Towers. 

Company town

As I wrote out my National Insurance number, employment and education history and all such nonchalant applicant data, I could hear Peter telling my fellow scribbler that if she was to turn up for a shift wearing clothing that bore the logo or name of a sports competitor – such as Nike or Reebok – and that even if it was not so much in-your-face as a base ball cap but something hardly noticeable – she would be sent directly home and told to change, whereupon she would miss the shift, be denied payment for that shift and effectively “warned” not to repeat the behaviour. I could scarcely believe what I was hearing. 

I playfully but firmly challenged Peter. How could I resist? The lady that he was speaking with was duly nodding along and it strikes me that the fearful acquiescence of potential candidates in such a situation is interpreted by the employer and recruiter as some form of fawning obsequiousness – a servility that only encourages the work provider and their dutiful helpers to turn into such little Hitler’s as I was witnessing. It is out and out bullying. Playground tactics. No rabbit-in-a-hat tricks. 

I pointed out to Peter that the night shift workers at Coca-Cola in Wakefield (I used to be one) are not reprimanded and docked work for turning up in Pepsi attire. That at my first job out of college – The Financial Times – we used to keep copies of all major competitor publications in the building as a form of good practice. At Loaded magazine, we bought copies of FHM and Esquire and had their posters adorning our office walls. That perhaps it would be good for Adidas to see their competitors clothing modelled on its own employers as a form of competitor analysis – the same as most normal companies in the world at large actually do. When I was in an executive role for Manchester United as its Value Added Services Projects Manager with two season tickets, company car, an office on Baker Street in the West End and one in the ground with first class train tickets between London and Manchester and five star hotels at my behest, they knew I was a Leeds fan. Even the players are not club loyal. When I worked there in 2002 Ron Gourlay (Head of MU Merchandising and later at Chelsea) was from Glasgow and tied to The Firm. David Beckham was a West Ham fan. Roy Keane was Spurs. And the sky didn’t cave in.

How stupifyingly childish of Adidas. Brand apocalypse? Badges and icons given priority over humans and humanity. Nice touch!

Have you worked out what’s really going on? OK. It’s like this: back in the early twentieth century in the U.S, car maker Henry Ford knew that his biggest market for new cars was his own employees. He envisioned and sublimely created a kind of pyramid scheme – you get in on the project and you become a customer. You get your mates and your family relatives a job at the plant. They become customers too.

In return, Henry was a philanthropist, looking after all of his workers by paying top dollar and building community infrastructure such as parks, schools and setting up a range of charitable trusts – all directed toward improving the living standards of his staff.

In a cheap imitation of the above, Adidas has seen the opportunity for the pyramid scheme – but then gone all shy when it came to the philanthropy bit.

I knew what was coming. Peter just looked at me blankly and churned out the standard lines that he had been programmed to churn out. Rules are rules are rules and all that jazz. I was tempted to prod him to check he was not a ‘bot. A three-stripes Germanic droid. I resisted. 

Don’t you see ? This type of rule is nothing to do with a dress code. It is to do with employee subservience. In a world where employer responsibilities have vanished while at the same time, worker responsibilities have reached a kind of post-modern zenith, things are arriving at their logical conclusion. In a zero-hours contract world we now have a situation where the worker is not even guaranteed as much as one hours work per week, yet in return will have to work extraordinary and unsociable hours at absolutely (zero) no notice for a derisory sum of money and here at Adidas – will have to be a genuine “Company Town” kind of character. A walking three-dimensional advert to the brand. I have to be Mr Adidas for my £8.65 per hour. I’ll never have a social life or any kind of healthy private life – I’ll hardly ever see my friends and family. Adidas cannot guarantee when the shift of each work session will conclude due to the nature of the work, so I don’t know when I’ll be home. But that’s not enough. Now I have to filter my wardrobe for anything bearing Umbro and Fila and Nike and Tacchini – which is no easy task for most people because a large proportion of the demographic that will be taking on such jobs will have grown up adorning sports clothing as casual daily wear most of the time. 

Ah! Precisely. Not only is this super wealthy brand exploiting workers in terms of pay and conditions and contractual rights – it knows that the kids from the hood ALL wear casual sports gear ALL of the time. And in banning anything but its own brand ostensibly for work purposes, it has just guaranteed that thousands of low paid workers in Trafford Park in Manchester will buy new trainers, tracksuits, baseball caps, sweatbands and countless tops, hoodies and T-shirts – from now on ONLY with the Adidas logo on. It may as well pay them in Adidas coupons rather than real money. In a way, it kind of is doing just that.

Brands are sticky. From banks to cars to sportswear. The ramifications will bounce around and filter through generations of families and friends. In a bid to knock Nike off its perch – a perch bought with sponsorship of the local football team – which is a global brand in itself – here comes the chief competitor with a new plant less than a mile from the football stadium and a dress code stipulation that, from most angles, just doesn’t make sense. Company Town indeed. People are less than pawns to BigCorp. It’s Nike versus Adidas and everyone living in the area is but a Lowry-esque factory slave. And oh how the locals comply like good little Lemmings!

Needless to say, Peter Blasco, having witnessed my dialogue with Sarah Whetstone, whereupon I called out her patronising tone and manner, didn’t call me back later to discuss work opportunities, as I had been given to understand was normally the case. I may have been a tad too disobedient in the core of my personality, for the type of shift clone they were seeking to take advantage of. 

Move along, move along. These aren’t the droids we’re looking for.

I cannot say that I lost any sleep over any of this. 

The work delusion 

Think about it. Everyone in the system that could speak up is a stakeholder in the house of cards so it’s in all of their interests to spin the line that the work is out there. You know, actual decent paid work that allows one to build a life of sorts. Not this thinly disguised slavery. They all play this game of illusion as if the date was 1949 and the country is in deep recovery from a war so labour-wise it is all hands to the pump. Except this couldn’t be further from the truth. 

The recruitment agents need to project an image of market buoyancy – much as we know estate agents do with regard to the housing market. The government is under similar pressures – accountable to an active electorate that is largely ignorant of the real state of play. The media these days is a super-corporation (cable and satellite) if not a government mouthpiece (obligatory licensed channels). The public at large believes the media. It totally buys in. People like to think that they are living in a society where hard work always pays off and that idleness is penalised. The vast swathes of upper-working-class and lower-middle-class Britain that have grown wealthy by sitting on their hands through three huge housing bubbles since the late 1970’s needs to believe that it is worthy of this newfound fortune. There needs to be a sense of profound psychological entitlement. 

The upshot is that precisely nobody wants to believe, let alone hear, the unfolding of my own personal narrative. The idea that good, honest, hardworking people cannot find work even when they persistently try to do so does not chime so well with the big song and dance. I’m pointing out that the emperor’s new clothes are too skin coloured to be taken seriously and I have a strong sense that even as most people read these words they have switched off. Emotion kicks in. Denial kick in. Excuses abound. I will be discredited for this reason and that. 

Perhaps the idea that there is no work generates a fear that people will have a license to sit back and put their feet up. So what? Maybe, after all, we should decouple the notion of money from that of work at least where that money represents the most basic of provisions – which in the fifth richest nation on earth would include housing, utilities including fibre and mobile, health, insurance, pension, education from cradle to grave, healthy nutritional intake and a healthy lifestyle – perhaps a bicycle or a gym membership. Bill Gates is proposing that we tax the robots and I love this way of coming at the world’s problems. 

If work, in the main, does not contribute to society, why are we rewarding it? Why are we enshrining it in moral armour? Why are we seeing it as good or of worth in any real sense? For most people, to “work” simply means to expend all their efforts on improving their own lot and to hell with everyone else. 

If we were to give everyone an annual income of thirty thousand pounds, excepting those who are very wealthy, I’m sure everyone would spend it. The economy would be flying at full tilt as all this money goes around the system rather than being locked in a private wealth fund or in some off- shore bank account. And better still, we’d see a total drop off in rip-off Britain, fervent sales scams and incessant commercial cons. 

Work, in the modern age, is just an incentive to offer totally useless and annoying services that nobody really wants. The high street is dripping with dross and everybody is skint. Who has the courage to totally flip the script on this set-up? Me, for one. Those of us not invested in the status quo are the ones who dare to think bigger, think earnestly and think in favour of what would really work for the good of all of us. Not just me, me, me. The good news is that there are so many people like me, with nothing to lose, that one wonders whether the economy has inadvertently reached some kind of tipping point where the “nothing to lose-ers” so far outnumber those wishing to conserve and preserve their stinkingly grotesque nest-eggs. This, coupled with high levels of education and a consensus of individual confidence and creativity lends itself to optimum conditions for something new to spring forward. Maybe the system, like all systems and all empires and all states of normalcy – all establishments – has simply eaten itself such that some form of new ground-up architecture begins to shine through like an inevitability. I am confident that large tracts of young people and the poor and the disenfranchised are arriving at similar conclusions with no help from me. 

Work lost its contributory soul

It’s hardly like everyone is busy building schools and hospitals and irrigating crops. When work stopped being about making positive contributions to our communities and money stopped being its reward, what happened is that work became this selfish thing we do and money became the end goal. If I were to secure a job as a lawyer and, due to it’s restrictive supply of “club members” fashioned by its union (The Law Society) I were to command a huge salary largely for nothing short of robbing peoples pockets in exchange for a bit of tedious administrative work, and if I were to spend all of my huge salary on me and my kin – houses, cars, holidays, a second home, private education fees, jewellery and fine dining – people in our Western material world would for the most part be both admiring and envious of me. How fucked up is that? 

Public purse arrears

My public purse arrears are way lower than anyone working and earning less than £100,000 per year. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) publishes an annual report to confirm it.

And anyone earning above that sum? It’s still a moot point. You’re still not off the hook. Not by a country mile.

It’s perfectly alright to give birth in an NHS hospital, drive on public roads and get married in our churches and put your kids through state schools and recruit staff that were trained and made literate by the state but then you want to call grabbing obscene amounts of money in return for no positive contribution to society “work” while you disappear behind big electric gates with your hideous kitsch “stuff”, spend every penny on you and your lot, ignore everybody else, look down on the people you are depriving and whinge about a tiny amount of tax. Who pays for the traffic lights and road works and pollution controls and the legal framework that protects and enables your business and the emergency services and the entire real world infrastructure that supports the end-to-end supply chain system so you can “click n collect” without even having to mingle with the un-washed masses ? Santa?

You think you’re some C-Suite big shot but you’re just as hooked up to the supply chain system and spoon-fed like a babe-in-arms and just as owned by the benefits system as anyone else. It’s hardly as if you can feed yourself or clothe yourself or keep yourself warm. You’re just one juicy seventy-two hour power cut from having to descend to street level and fight for your food as the hungriest homeless sleeper. And all the mortgage equity in London ain’t changing that, cowboy.

James Smith

Yet right now as I type I am less than twenty-four hours from James Smith – my Job Centre work coach -advising me that I really should take a dead end job and not let my charity work get in the way of it. His words were “I wouldn’t want your little six hours a week get in the way of a job.” The little six, huh? He was precisely referring to a nine to five admin job or a drivers job and he was exactly referencing my intention to do some voluntary work for Citizens Advice Bureau – as I had completed an application, met the head of North West recruitment for CAB – a chap called Gareth Hughes – and at the time of writing I been informed that I would be trained for an advisory role at Salford University with a position opening for me in early 2018. In the end this did not transpire due to personnel changes at the charity.  

I have actually grown to like James Smith – my work coach. He’s a hard-working young family man just trying to get by. My indictment of sub-standard quality thresholds within the DWP system is not always a personal one. As a nation, as a society, as a human race, as a species – our values and priorities are incredibly askew.

Consider the moral mess we are in. How fallen are we? Don’t help people Gary! Be the low paid servant of businesses that damage our planet and our mental wellbeing. The former is stupid and we look down on it. The latter is normalcy and to be admired. 

Work is a massive decoy. It is no longer work in fact. So why should money follow it? If you are co-opted into the money train, grasping wildly on behalf of yourself and your kin, that’s your greedy dumb problem. There is no line of logic that holds that because you are too weak to resist it, I too should give in. You’re the idiot. My hands are clean..

The sad fact is that people at large will not hear what they do not wish to hear. Yet I will continue to call the truth as I see and experience it. And I guess you’re just going to have to deal with that. After all, this is my true story and I have made the effort to tell it. My evidenced narrative gives me an authority that you presently lack. If you disagree, prove it. You know what to do. Oh no! It really does involve turning your massive television off and creating something for yourself for once. Too much to ask? Of course, it is. 

We have all been conditioned to react in a most knee-jerk fashion to the very idea of any sort of systemic revolution and the fashion that I speak of is ridicule. People call up images of communist China or Russian Gulags but aren’t these all just rather childish? Look at the state of Britain. People are starving on the streets while the rest of us are blissed out on TV soma. And too much food. 

In our land of plenty, too many have not even enough to survive. You and I are both complicit in this. Don’t you think it’s time to wake up? 

Extract: From Under A Cloud On Heartbreak Hill. A new book coming soon. 

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