Proper Fucked. Destitution.

There’s an index, a common measure. A consensual method. It tells everyone when people are in poverty – when they can’t live sufficiently by the standards of normal society. There’s also a lot of ‘rock bottom’ quoted. People have been as near to it as they can get.

Thing is, and I mean this, there is no near miss. You are either destitute or you’re not.

I am.

Though I’ve never really thought about it properly, having had to convince myself otherwise for the sake of being able to put one foot in front of the other, last night came the epiphany. I am destitute and I just dead kitten bounced off rock bottom. The issue being the final hit is still to come.

My life has been a bit of a do for the last few years and I’ve never had chance to fully rest and recover from the whole parliament and loss of policing career thing. Never had time to balance the books and learn to cope with feeling like I’m in deep space orbit. A lonely kid out on Saturn’s rings, having nightmares about the awful things people do to one another and no longer being part of the coping mechanism which helps you keep it all in check. But life laughs in the face of damage done, so you keep moving.

Last year the marriage finally broke. We’re amicable now and focus on the kids but to say it was pleasant would be a lie. This year something else broke and left me in a right mess, but it doesn’t matter. It was just a kick in the teeth as I was being kicked in the head. But none of this is destitution. That started in March.

I’d managed to open a pub and then watched a four month road closure destroy it. Bad luck. On the 17th of March I was declared bankrupt losing the business which was also my home. The benefits system does not provide a safety net if you don’t receive the child benefit. No housing. No charitable grants. No hardship loans from the social. I had, at this point, £27 in an old savings account which the receiver promptly took. But you move on.

I sofa surfed at my dad’s, up in Derby. Managed to find a low paid job back in Colchester and the old man lent me the money to get a room. It’s a bedsit, and not a good one. I won’t describe it because there are things people don’t need to know about shared facilities. But you keep moving.

Between the 29th of March and the 28th of May this year I was paid £570, out of which I had to pay my phone bill, so I could talk to my kids, and £380 rent for the room. You can’t even get a payday loan when you’re bankrupt and I’d run out of things to sell so I lived on crackers, despite the job being physical, and eventually had to resort to accepting charitable offers from people as the effects of malnutrition set in. I had no body fat at all by May. But you keep moving.

Come July, the job goes because people aren’t nice and there aren’t any more jobs. You invest what you have in trying to carve out a different future.

Come the 5th of September you have £30 and the corner you are in suddenly feels oppressive. You pay £10 for your boy’s school dinners. You have £20.

There is no near miss. You are either destitute or you’re not.

A change in circumstances means you need to find a house, apply for housing, tax credits and child benefit. You can’t go privately rented because of the bankruptcy. The changes can’t all kick in until you’ve found a house. You still have £20 but now you know you’ll have nothing until the end of October. Your daughter’s DLA application can’t be processed until you have faxed a letter confirming the change in circumstances. Their fax doesn’t work. You have to post it first class. £19.20 left. One pack of biscuits gone.

You have to be at the employment tribunal to fight against your employer. Return trip £11, £8.20 left. Postage of documents to your old employer leaves you under a fiver.

You get offered an opportunity which will help your life get better. You need a passport. The only way you can do it is through the kindness of others. You feel like shit. Again. You have a full blown panic attack and realise you’ll hate yourself for this situation for as long as you live. No matter what the future holds, if there is one, you will always hate yourself for this. At the moment you just don’t have enough energy or freedom of thought to do it sufficiently.

You count and portion the food left in the cupboard. 5 Weetabix, no milk. 6 tins of soup. 1 pack of noodles. 1 jar of instant coffee. You can live for two weeks on it, maybe three. You can’t pay your phone bill, so you have to accept you’re on your own in many respects. You won’t be able to call any of the benefits to chase them up.

Despite all of it, you keep moving.

There comes a time though when you take a look and you realise you are fucked. You reside in a hovel, well below the breadline, and you aren’t living. A useless fucking charity case. You’re just looking for a way to survive. If you can’t pay the rent at the end of the month, with the six month tenancy up, you’re out and homeless. What little belongings you had left are going to have to go too. Still you move.

I’m not sure how the hell I’m supposed to get through this. But I’ll keep telling myself one more. Just one more knock and I can get back up. Because what else is there?

There’s an index, a common measure. A consensual method. It tells everyone when people are in poverty, when they can’t live sufficiently by the standards of normal society. There’s also a lot of rock bottom quoted. People have been as near to it as they can get.

There is no near miss. You are either destitute or you’re not.

I am and it’s fucking awful. I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone.

6 thoughts on “Proper Fucked. Destitution.

  1. Paul

    James, I am currently going through a similar ordeal after making protective disclosures against the MPS with horrific consequences. I would very much like to speak to you.


    1. jamesp79

      Horrendous news. I’m happy to talk and offer whatever support I can.


      1. Paul

        James, thank you. Is there any way I can contact you without our conversation being public?


      2. jamesp79

        If you email me I will pass on secure contact details.


  2. Helen

    James from one human being to another is there any way anyone can help you…practical stuff or emotional support…just a listening ear…anything?


    1. jamesp79

      People have been really kind and even just writing that has helped. Thankfully a corner has been turned in my case, but keep your eyes on those close to you.


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