The Ideal Alternative To The Benefits System

*Kicks hornet’s nest: I think the Benefits System needs scrapping.

Comrades – Hear me out; I will start this memo off with a fact. I am claiming benefits and I am also a disabled British National (I have Schizo-Affective Disorder and I was born in Norfolk – I am also British). As a claimant of ESA, DLA, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit I am on the ‘top whack’ for a lot of these due to chronic illness. But, I am doing okay for myself because of it. Some months I have food in all the time. I am comfortably impoverished. If my health was good, I would return to education. But, in this Blog post, I hope to outline a ‘good idea’ for the scrapping of the benefits system.

A Turkey Voting For Christmas?

Why would I state that the benefits system needs scrapping? Why would I say that after my bold boast that I am “Comfortably Impoverished?” I am saying the benefits system in the UK needs scrapping because it has become a game.

I have just applied for the replacement to ESA, called PIP. The idea of the “PIP Game” is that the governing body has to realise how ill you are and then you will be awarded your set amount of money from the government. The government have a set number of benchmarks to gauge how ill you are. The iller you are, the more money you get. It is in peoples interest to be ill because the iller you are, the more money you get.

There are even people who’s job it is to ensure you get the right benefits (ie “You are ill with X, so you receive X money”). It is a charade.

The Solution

I believe I am paraphrasing Marx when I say this – I think I am just re-iterating the redistribution of wealth. But, here goes: would it make sense to offer a Universal Salary to everyone who is a subject of HM Queen?

A standard set amount of money is distributed throughout the year regardless of your health, income, race, gender, sexual preference or anything that unites or separates us? Paid for by our current taxes.

Wouldn’t it be the compassionate thing to do? To extend the hand of brotherhood to each and every person of this fair isle? To embrace all that is great about the diversity of this island, and kick the Gammons in to touch once and for all?

With the Universal Salary – people would be able to ask for the money – if they are in a tight spot or not – without the assessment. The sheer amount of faff that goes into a benefit claim means that the government are sometimes spending more legitimising the recipient’s claim than the recipient will receive in benefits.

It is a game. Kafka’s “Trial” reminds me of the whole process. A man is arrested without being told what he has been arrested for – he is allowed to go about his normal life regardless. He is just ‘Arrested + on trial’. As in Kafka’s book, you are constantly on trial without committing a crime when you are on benefits. You are marked when you are on benefits.

The redistribution of wealth, the Universal Salary, means that peoples taxes, the taxes that they already pay, will be used for a fairer society – a society that helps the ill person and the single parent. A society that helps the student and helps the pensioner.

A fairer society.

I rarely talk about this sort of thing on this Blog – I do not have the wit to become a campaigner for Disability Rights, or the charm – I am a man who sits in his pyjamas working as a web designer. It is rare I write about my Health. I try and keep it to myself.

But this really, really got to me. DWP: don’t send me back to Dark Place.

aye wear

New, Aye Wear

New Aye Wear // Eyewear. Why would I need glasses? Well, when I went down to London with Mrs Backhouse I was squinting at the train signs, causing me to get a bit flustered. I realised my distance vision needed correcting. Specsavers in Harrogate sorted me out – I woke early, after a 19.5-hour sleep, and set to about making an appointment – Mr Mahmood saw me and did the necessary. Turns out my script shows my right eye is worse than t’left. I am short-sighted.

I chose some frames and went to The Winchester until it all blew over. A couple of pints in and an old friend I know turned up – haven’t seen James in a bit and we got talking about our motivation behind our passion for music. James writes the incredibly prolific blog, This Noise Is Ours – worth a visit if you are a fan of extreme metal. Although, both James and I know that I prefer my Extreme Metal played by Cats in berets improvising over scattered snares with a parpy saxophone and scat singing (Free Jazz // Experimental).

Picked up my glasses and headed home – here they are –

So, if you see them lying around, please pop them in a safe place and I’ll shout you a pie. It’s nice to be nice.

In other news, I have been working to the fullest my contract with the DWP will allow me to – when I say I work for the DWP, I am in fact a Mental Health Expert – ish. Well, that is what I put on my CV when I will eventually be kicked out the door and made to get a job despite all the contrary advice from Health Care professionals stating I am too ill to work. But, we will see on that – I have an assessment on Wednesday and I am a bit apprehensive to be honest – if they stop our benefits I will be cast adrift and have no way of supporting myself. I cannot work (due to health) and I need a bit of help in the day-to-day. Still, it is up to a Clerk at the DWP to extend my contract and let me continue to be a p/t Mental Health Expert // p/t Web Designer.

Lost a friend the other week – S.M. He had had his benefits stopped and he could not see a way out of it – he took his own life. He was in no way well enough to fend for himself and yet the DWP stopped them without warning – he is at peace now and will be missed. Funeral is on Thursday. I’ll be there to pay respects. I doubt there will be much putting the “Fun” in Funeral due to the nature of his end – but, I will make a stand and show my face.

I saw S.M. just the other week – he had managed to go and get a coffee unaided, in town – he was making headway. Leaves me slightly anxious about my interview … I will keep you posted.

Happy Birthday Mrs Backhouse!

Mrs Backhouse turned another year over today – she grows in beauty everyday and is a joy to be with. Gorgeous all-round life-companion, wife, friend & dog-walker she is everything to me; Kathryn, I love you.

We woke up around the same time, today – her Birthday – and she was soon out of the door to her clients (hounds). I had to get her to open her presents as she was just wanting a nice cup of tea & a sitdown. Gift Enforcement had to metered out.

I had bought Kathryn a SONOS Play:1 and she seems to love it. Obviously, it will be playing more Hardcore Punk than Dub but then it is her speaker. I had a bit of fun setting it up the other day and loved the noise of the SONOS Smart Device.

I also got Mrs Backhouse a t-shirt from Major Tom’s Social – her favourite pub. It is a design by the talented Kate, who works there – she designed the image below and it is amazing!

 

… it is on a grey tee and my wife looks amazing in it.

We pottered around for a few hours and then headed out to a venue that was new to us – we had not been to Starling before but it had big boots to fill in Major Tom’s stead. The temporary relocation of Funs was welcome but … just a temporary phase.

The pizzas were good – some bits better than Tom’s and some bits worse than Tom’s. The staff were pleasant but anonymous – the vibe lacked and there was an event going on every room that made the group members look at you when you burst out laughing – and boy did we laugh; me and Mrs Backhouse were joined by Simon & Scooby – and for a brief period graced by the presence of Michelle & Reef.

We managed to cover everything from Health Care to Onion Sandwiches and we had established that I have spent too long in Harrogate.

But, the most important thing is that Mrs Backhouse went away smiling. She has really looked out for me over the past year and it was nice to spoil her. This was a small group of friends who came together to catch up – we all met at Tom’s (Si & Scoob & Me) and I think that is where the majority of our future liasons will be – thanks Starling; you were awesome but not for us permanently, but a welcome break. Happy birthday Mrs Backhouse! x

Living with Ghosts

I have to state that this post is about the event “Living With Ghosts” as opposed to any health implied topic. Nicola, Scooby & I trundled over to York – it was a haul as it was a strike day and the last train was phenomenally early – Scoob nearly missed the train to York and kerfuffle was avoided by being the level-headed gent that I am growing into ;).

The event in question was billed as –

Poets Oz Hardwick and Amina Alyal explore ways in which we are haunted by ghosts of the past and ghosts of ourselves, in a reading accompanied by music. Oz and Amina have collaborated on numerous past projects, including the Saboteur-shortlisted chapbook Close as Second Skins (2015).

Being a massive fan of both Oz and Amina’s work I was there like a shot. Well lubricated after calling into York Tap we found York Theatre Royal, the Keregan Rooms was our destination.

To be honest – I was a bit unsure about what to expect.

I got there and it turned out to be an afternoon of polite verse: Amina opened with some excellent poetry and then Oz followed being his ineffable, charming self. It was worth coming over just for the verse. A break was achieved and we reconvened for some of the best improvised, spoken-word-inspired, semi-acoustic ambient I have had the pleasure to hear for a long while.

Think Tidswell Noise Collective circa their first album – but good!

They really knew their chops. Oz & Amina were joined by a gifted guitarist who plucked arpeggios and whose fingers moved lightning quick over the six-string.

Top-notch fun. I wish them every success in the future and I hope that York Festival put them on again – including other acts who blur the boundaries, like A Tiding Of Magpies. Here are some guerrilla photos from the event.

I Hope I Am Like This Guy When I Hit Eighty

lee perry

Lee “Scratch” Perry


 

Lee Perry is well into his eighties and is not starting to show signs of slowing down. Me and Kathryn called into the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds to see him last night and the gig was awesome.

 


 

We got there around eight thirty in time for the tail end of the support act – it was billed to be Karl Blau but there seemed to be a reggae covers band on – not to worry, the lady had a strong voice and the rhythm section was tight with good keys. They warmed up the crowd and got people moving.

Then Perry’s band came out – we were stood behind the sound guy (he was using a MIDAS system) and had the best sound in the room. They jammed out a few instrumentals and then The Upsetter cam on stage dressed in his magical finery.

He paced up and down the stage warning all about the dangers of organised religion whilst sipping on Ginger Wine and smoking inside the venue – the place stank of weed and Kathryn was grinning from ear to ear.

lee Perry at the brudenell 2018The crowd was very friendly and it re-cemented my belief that the Brudenell is one of the best venues in the country.

Perry mumbled his way lucidly through the biggest reggae songs of the twentieth century – all of which he penned himself. He had forgotten half of the words to the songs after the first few opening lines and he needed to be reminded of the playlist that they had agreed to play that night in Leeds – it was a technically a shambles.

But it was the best shambles I have been to. Technically, terrible – but, the most fun gig I have had the pleasure of attending. The crowd adored Perry and he pranced around the stage at eighty years young wearing his customised head gear and mirrored denim jacket.

I love the music – but, after tonight, I think I love the man more.

Quick Write Up About A Project

At first, I thought about writing this post on my Artist site www.baffledgeography.co.uk but then I would just fan-boy all over the writer. See, I had a write up in a periodical that kind of shaped me more than any other periodical – The Wire magazine is to avant-garde music is what both Kerrang and NME is to Indie music.

It stands head and shoulders above the rest of its peers as a pointer towards good, un-orthodox and out there music. And I got a write up about “A Sonic Map Of Dornoch“, my latest release.

A Sonic Map Of Dornoch was released on Focused Silence back on the day before I turned 37. Sales have been slow and some of the online reviews missed the point. But, people know that The Wire magazine know their onions and this is what Spenser Tomson said about “A Sound Map Of Dornoch” …

Inbound Post

… I have a Sound Devices MixPre 6 on its way – it should be here by the end of Friday (it is currently Friday around 0330) and I am so excited I can’t sleep.

Granted – I had a rough day of it yesterday; my head has been all over the place due to being housebound due to the weather. But, with the help of the CMHT and The World’s Best Wife™ I am sure I will pull through. My sister has been amazing to me – she is due all the chocolate. My brother is getting spewed on by his daughter.

In essence, I was losing a battle with my wits – thankfully I have accidentally outwitted a half-wits wit, what!

But back to the main reason I am blogging. I will soon be in possession of a Sound Devices recording rig – an ambition that I have longed to fulfil. It seems to be the best rig for the price out there. Granted, you will have Aaton and Giant Sound but they are priced out of my range at around £12k.

 

 

The above video is a (quite long) walkthrough of the main features of the thing. It can record in 192/24 and the pre-amps are legendary. It may seem a bit of an obscure hobby, Field Recording – but, everyman needs a vice.

I will use it for Field Recording – something you could call Phonography.

Here it is –

 

A Peasant’s View Of Art: Beuys @ Leeds

Kathryn had the day off work today – so we decided to pop over to Leeds to take in some culture. The City centre Gallery had benefited from a refurb and we were pleased to see that Joseph Beuys was the artist featured in the ARTIST ROOMS in the gallery. Not that I knew much about him before I arrived.

“Joseph Beuys (1921-1986) was one of the twentieth century’s most important and revolutionary cultural figures, who changed the look and meaning of sculpture forever. A political and social activist and educator, Beuys believed in the healing power and social function of art. He saw creativity as central to all aspects of human existence, declaring that ‘everyone is an artist’.”

I appreciate I may not be the most qualified of chaps to comment on the artist, Beuys, output. So, if you have anything different to say please leave a comment in the footer of this post. However, I went to an exhibition and this is my blog – so I will write about the exhibition.

But what did I make to the above art and, inevitably, the artist’s take on life: I loved it. I believe Beuys was trying to merge the Scientific and the Spiritual through his sculptures and, personally, I think he challenged the way people see the world after being exposed to his art.

I know it has for me.

The materials he used were not the most palatable of choice for me – lots of materials that set my teeth on edge: felt & fat being two choice examples. But I love the symbolism of what he was hoping his viewer would get. Like Shakyamuni’s finger pointing towards the moon, the works I saw in Leeds today spoke of wider memes and counterpoints to the global psyche of the latter part of the twentieth century. I actually, for the first time in my life, think I got an art exhibition!

Beuys was instrumental in the founding of the German Green Party and used his profile as an artist to speak out for the disenfranchised and dispossessed. He actively campaigned for environmental issues and befriended a coyote. Were his works aesthetically appealing? No. In short, I believe his point was to provoke and administer a revolution of the individual. To overthrow our self-imposed rulers and set our selves free to be who we want to be.

After a bit of research into Beuys when I got home I read this about his choice of the before-mentioned materials: in 1942, Beuys was stationed in the Crimea and was a member of various combat bomber units. From 1943 on he was deployed as rear-gunner in the Ju 87 “Stuka” dive-bomber, initially stationed in Königgrätz, later in the eastern Adriatic region. On 16 March 1944, Beuys’s plane crashed on the Crimean Front close to Znamianka. From this incident, Beuys fashioned the myth that he was rescued from the crash by nomadic Tatar tribesmen, who had wrapped his broken body in animal fat and felt and nursed him back to health:

“Had it not been for the Tartars I would not be alive today. They were the nomads of the Crimea, in what was then no man’s land between the Russian and German fronts, and favoured neither side. I had already struck up a good relationship with them and often wandered off to sit with them.” –  Joseph Beuys

Was Beuys an artist or a revolutionary … or a healer? I cannot answer that & I will leave the answer to those who knew him best. Either way, his work has left an impression on this peasant. I see him as someone who used the tools at his disposal, what he was good at, as a way of effecting long-lasting social change. Whether he was successful or not, I doubt it – but it has made me want to take up the baton for improving the self for the sake of others.