Sunday, February 4, 2024

Ho ho, Ho no.

So I thought I had retired. Not by choice, but even so. Severe heart failure, cancer and a head full of demons saw the government sit me down, pat me on the head and say “there, there, you tried, but you are too messed up to work. Here’s some money.”

And so for the last few years I have been living on PIP, whilst winding up my cardiologist by staying alive. It was a strange existence, knowing that my brain was mostly still functioning but being unable to do anything productive (or financially rewarding). I took up lockpicking as a hobby. Deeply Freudian for an ex con to become absorbed in locks…

Now, however, the government has decided that I have the health of an Olympian, and took their money back. This was something of a blow, especially as I can now add a fractured spine to my list of annoying ailments. Bemused, I’ve been through two stages of the appeals process and await a third. So far, the fact I have what we now politely call a “life limiting illness” hasn’t effected their scales of judgement.

So like Grumpy, its off to work I must go.

And there lies the problem. On my release I sidestepped the regular job market and was able to use my status as “educated ex con big mouth” to get myself work in the criminal justice third sector, with a bit of TV tarting on the side. Of course with my retirement I have neglected all these contacts, as I slowly withdrew from prison issues. I was content to try and wash prison out of my bones, after a lifetime.

The passage of time has seen this niche advantage eroded, and the reality is that another favourite ex con is always around the corner. That can no longer be my beat. The obvious avenues are touting myself around the prison-ish charities but they are surprisingly averse to ex cons. I will be trying this nonetheless. Given the secluded corner of the world I now occupy, several hours from London, finding a job there would be nothing short of miraculous (and ridiculous) and London is the centre of these things.

I peer wistfully into the Job Centre window, seeing all the casual jobs floating around. Why are they not for me? I’ve done every job from scrubbing toilets to E-Commerce strategy. Stacking shelves isn't a step down. Alas, this is where that pesky heart failure hoves back onto the stage - there are just so many jobs that I am no longer physically capable of doing. Which points the way to “working by brain rather than hand”.

Which brings me to exactly the situation I have spent so much time trying to avoid - dealing with that little box on application forms that say “Do you have any unspent convictions?” Usually tucked away on the last page. An irrelevancy for most. A mountain for me.

You’re a random officer manager, looking for a quiet administrator. Along comes an old guy with a very patchy CV, likely to fall down dead, and oh yes, he killed someone. I mean, why would you even bother when there's  a queue of other, sane, applicants stretching round the corner?

So this is a pretty difficult situation. Jacob cat is being as well fed as ever. Apart from that, everything is getting just a bit ropey and gruel is getting boring.

So I will work for food. If I fail to find work I may be forced to begin an Only Fans.

You have been warned.

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