Witching Hour

He wakes every night sometime before four
With the the kids grown and left, and she quietly snores
Just inches away on the bed that they share
That they bought when they wed, when he still had his hair
When she still had the smiles, when he still had the time
When their children were young and they kept them in line
He studies her form and remembers the days
When he’d have woken her there on the bed where she lay
And taken her quickly, and they’d smoke through the dawn
(Which all came to an end when their first child was born)
The thought passes swift as his bladder chimes in
“I regret to announce but it’s piss time again,”
Then, the back of his brain: “Have you put out the bin?”

She wakes every night sometime after three
And pretends to be sleeping so that he can’t see.


Cheap Booze Upsets Middle Class People Who Disapprove of Drinking

Apparently anti-booze campaigners are going nuts over a new prospective chain of “Pound Pubs” set to open across Britain, with the flagship pub being opened in Atherton, Manchester.

Come on everyone let's get pissed at the Pound Pub

Come on everyone let’s get pissed at the Pound Pub

Colin Shevells, director of Balance had this to say about the whole shebang: Drink is already too affordable, too available and too heavily promoted. We know that problems are caused by it being too cheap. The PoundPub is just part of a much bigger problem. We need to wake up to the problems cheap alcohol is causing both in the short and long term.”

Meh. I lived in the Isle of Man for a while and they’ve had a pub there called “Quids Inn” for years – over ten years – where you pay a pound to get in and then loads of drinks are available for a pound. The Isle of Man enjoys a very low level of poverty and antisocial behaviour compared to the mainland UK; and residents have managed to partake responsibly enough of the low-priced alcohol available at Quids for over a decade without the town of Douglas imploding due to mad alcoholics going on boozy benders, leaving them incapable of being functional members of society, all because a pub was selling drinks for a pound.

Depicted: everyone from the Isle of Man


The current anti-booze lobby pushes to stifle the free market in such a way that only well-heeled people can afford to be alcoholics. This is not about tackling the root causes of alcoholism, (as anyone with middle-class alcoholic family members can tell you – banning cheap alcohol won’t stop Aunty Trish and Uncle Ralf from necking two bottles of wine apiece per evening in front of BBC4) it is about making it as difficult as possible for poor alcoholics to be somewhat comfortable in their obvious misery. The current lobbyists are gunning for punishment: they want to punish people for being both poor and having the audacious temerity to have a chemical addiction, too.

Alcohol is legal, we already have age restrictions on its purchase, pricing it out of poor people’s pockets while keeping the choice available for middle and upper class people simply sends the message that poor people are the only social group, apart from children, who cannot be trusted to regulate their own intake responsibly.

On the other hand, without cheap booze to distract us on a weekend, perhaps the revolution (stop laughing) will come quicker.

Phew! Violence Against Women and Children Not Sexy, Say Save the Children

Save the Children USA have commissioned an advert depicting a fake shoot where models are asked to say generic cheesy lines in a “sexy” way, and as the advert continues the models are presented with lines giving facts about violence against women and children and asked to read them in a “sexy” way, too. The models discover that they can’t, and the director eventually stops pretending that facts about violence can be convincingly verbalised in a sexy way and everyone learns the lesson that despite not being a topic that lends itself easily to breathy, intimate whispers, violence against women and children is still an important issue.

I don’t get it. I mean, I do get that violence against women and children isn’t sexy. By the same token, pensioners freezing to death aren’t sexy. Being detained in Guantanamo Bay isn’t sexy. Iain Duncan Smith isn’t sexy. Toe fungus isn’t sexy. There are so many things that aren’t sexy in this world that we can still manage to talk about without having tits jiggled in our face first, and I had always been under the impression that violence against children was one of them.

The whole premise of the advert is weird. The conceit is that it is a real shoot with real models responding genuinely to a real director, who has for some reason been asked by somebody to get some sexualised sound bytes referring to violence against women and children. This is a situation that, were it happening in real life, would be indicative that some sort of weirdo was making something creepy and trying to pass it off as art. A lot of people would suspect that a person who would commission such a project probably had negative issues to do with violence against women and children, seeing as they are literally asking for violence against women and children to be sexualised.

I’m unsure as to how showing such a completely improbable scenario (people being asked to make dry facts about violence against women and children sound sexy), in a moral climate that already baulks at the notion of sexualising that sort of violence – particularly the element of it directed at children – is in any way helping to deepen the cultural understanding of this sort of violence. A cynical person – and I admit! I’m one of those – might even go as far as to say that the sexualised angle was one designed merely to cause controversy in order to generate more attention for both the Save the Children charity and the production company who made the advert.

Some might say that Save the Children are a charity that do lots of work with victims of violence and therefore there’s nothing wrong with using viral marketing techniques in order to raise awareness and donations, as the victims they are talking about in the advert will get more help and support because of the advert. However, it’s my view that a charity should not be engaging in even cautious sexualisation of violence against women and children without being able to show how the depiction is helping the victims of that violence. An anti-bullying PSA (for example) might show dramatized violence, but it will come with the message that “bullying is wrong”. This advert does not tell us that sexualising violence against women and children is wrong, it tells us that it’s a difficult thing for some people to do, but that doesn’t mean that violence against women and children isn’t an important subject deserving our attention.

An entirely morally vacant sentiment and one that does nothing for the victims of the violence described, even if some of the money generated by the advert’s publicity does.

Foodbanks Today, Dehumanization Tomorrow: Lessons From America

A Republican Senate candidate has posted a viral image comparing food stamp recipients to wild animals on her public Facebook page. The image text reads:



The food stamp program is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They proudly report that they distribute free meals and food stamps to over 46 million people on an annual basis,Meanwhile, the National Park Service, run by the U.S. Department of the Interior, asks us ‘please do not feed the animals.’ Their stated reason for this policy being that … “The animals will grow dependent on the handouts, and then they will never learn to take care of themselves,This concludes today’s lesson. Any questions?”

It doesn’t take a genius to realise that people, even hungry people who are down on their luck, are in no way analogous to wild animals. However, the further away we move as a country from treating poor, hungry people with dignity and respect, the easier it will become for politicians, think tanks and the press to establish a narrative that very heavily insinuates that poor people are mindless idiots, incapable of foresight and of responsibly spending emergency food money.

This narrative, if established, will lead to further unnecessary expansion of the state, especially in health and social services, as poor people – instead of being given emergency cash grants or interest-free crisis loans – will instead be herded through multiple taxpayer-funded or subsidised agencies and forced to jump through degrading and humiliating hoops all for a bag of heavily processed simple carbohydrates, tinned fruit swimming in syrup and cheap meat of often unverifiable origin.

Make no mistake, the current public face of foodbank assistance is one of cheery goodwill (Big Society bollocks) but if the public accepts this poor substitute for actual emergency food money, a substitute that denies the recipient the right to make their own choices – and instead forces food that middle and upper class people would rather die than eat themselves onto struggling members of the working class – it’s only a matter of time before this sort of mindless yet absolutely poisonous rhetoric makes its way across to our shores and is espoused by supposedly respectable political commentators and media outlets.



DWP Reacts in Fury to Free Easter Eggstravaganza

In the last few days it has emerged that a housing association in Wales offered each of its tenants a free Cadbury’s Creme Egg if they popped into their offices over the Easter holidays. The brown, ovoid, white-and-yellow-fondant-filled treat was offered alongside free financial advice for tenants who – due to massive social security cuts, and the housing association having to apply and enforce the bedroom tax charges or lose money themselves and perhaps have to be poor – were finding themselves unable to make the money that they really ought to be receiving magically appear in their bank accounts overnight.


Image credit - Twitter

Image credit – Twitter

“It’s a really good idea,” said Regina Busybody, a local middle class married woman who volunteers everywhere and has a really good self-described “rapport” with the underclass, “Poor people are a bit like children in that they respond really well to positive reinforcement for good behaviour, and quite often we see the opposite, we see people treating them like dogs instead, just punishing them, and it’s awful. I tell you one thing, I won’t be voting Tory in the next election.”

Regina is a coordinator at a local foodbank, where she hands out simple processed carbohydrates and tinned meat of dubious origin to hungry people who the government says would only spend emergency food money on drugs, alcohol and Sky TV and therefore fail to receive adequate nutrition. “Yes, we see all sorts of people here, it would break your heart really; they’re at rock bottom, often with a couple of kids in tow, and your heart goes out to them it really does. I always try to pop a little treat into the bag if there are children involved in the claim, and honestly it does make all the difference – I think it’s lovely that the housing association thought to give the gift of a Creme Egg over the Easter Holidays.”

Regina’s sentiment is not shared however by the powers that be at the DWP. Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith very nearly choked on his customary morning porridge – salted with the distilled tears of the sanctioned – when his very wealthy aristocratic wife Betsey pointed out the story on Twitter. “Goddammit,” exclaimed the quiet man, “If I have to make most of my extra-parliamentary cash whoring myself up and down the country doing after-dinner speeches without so much as a free Bassett’s Jelly Baby, these plebeians cannot and will not receive free Cadbury chocolate as a reward for being in debt!”


Mr Duncan Smith using the heat of righteous anger alone to melt a Creme Egg

Mr Duncan Smith using the heat of righteous anger alone to melt a Creme Egg in his hands

Duncan Smith hurriedly drafted a bill to be voted upon in the Commons that would require all people in debt to the government to detail every free item received while on the repayment plan along with (if the poor person decides not to sell the item straight away) the reasons given for not selling it in order to help pay off their debt faster. The bill passed with a comfortable majority, with most Labour Party members either abstaining from voting or voting the same way as the Tories and Lib Dems – the only notable exception being Dennis Skinner who shouted something about miners, pasties and dead Margaret Thatcher before finally buggering off in his time machine to the past where he will be happy.

Labour have promised to reverse the measure if the public vote for them in 2015.