September 18th 2011
It is Sunday today, so I can let the boy stay asleep as long as he wants to – or at least up until midday as he wants to meet a friend at the skate park in the next town seven miles away at one p.m. because there is what he calls a Skateboard ‘Jam’ going on there.
Jam ? Jam ? I thought jam was something you spread on bread. I suppose it is another ‘import’ from American culture.
As we both went to sleep diabolically late – about 3 a.m. – I slept late too. I woke up first at 8 a.m. because of noisy breakfast goings on in the next room.
I was wide awake and slightly cold despite having gone to bed fully clothed. The thin, cheap and nastily shoddy duvet the skinflint B&B owner supplies is useless at keeping me warm, and it’s only early autumn, not even winter yet !
The room is a bit like an underground prison cell too; small, poky and cold, dark, dank and airless and with only a small, narrow window high up under the ceiling of the room which hardly lets in any light. It is really a ghastly place to live.
My thirteen year year old son and I have been living here three months now, forced to live almost like vagrants thanks to the vindictive nastiness of the benefits system which has systematically persecuted us ever since I became a lone father over ten years ago, bringing up my son entirely by myself.
As the hot water had completely disappeared last night I thought I would get up straight away and complain to the B&B owner about it; so I did. Another guest having breakfast told me they had just washed their hair in cold water. That just shows there is nothing a woman will not do in their pursuit of glamour !
The hot water had only disappeared because the skinflints had just turned it off in their manic efforts to save money. It is just amazing the lengths they go to to avoid supplying anything if they can possibly avoid it. So the water regularly waxes and wanes in temperature as they turn it down when they think they can get away with it. They have also limited the flow of water to an absolute minimum so that it leaks through the ill fitting plug almost as fast as the basin fills up.
I then went back to sleep until almost midday, but immediately I woke up I got busy doing this and that; all those essential little things you have to do just to survive when you are living in a small, cramped space and have a child to look after.
Finally the boy managed to go and catch his train at one O’clock. I continued with the boring little chores and only escaped to the supermarket at 3 p.m as I had to do some shopping to buy tonight’s supper.
I am now aghast that is it 6 15 p.m. and that is all I have achieved today. It just seems to take forever to get even the simplest things done in these awful, deprived circumstances where we have no proper means of dealing with any aspect of ordinary domestic life. We cannot cook food and we have no means of washing clothes, for instance; two of the most basic domestic requirements.
No time for any leisure for me. I now have to straight away get on with trying to produce a meal by eight p.m. so I can get the boy to bed sufficiently early to get enough sleep. We have school tomorrow, so have to get up at 6.45 a.m.
It’s all rush , rush, rushing around in ever diminishing concentric circles getting very, very little done at all. this is what it is like being homeless and living out of an overnight bag while trying to function normally.
I didn’t get straight on with the meal after all. I thought I would go bonkers if I didn’t get out of the place and go for a walk or something. I also desperately needed some exercise as I hadn’t been out of the grotty little room for days because I had been doing endless paperwork and what-have- you.
So, I thought I would get the bike and use it to get me to the edge of this grubby little town we live in so I could go for a walk in the countryside. I badly needed a calming, up-lifting, relaxing dose of tranquil Sussex countryside. There are the most spectacular walks all over Sussex in quintessentially English countryside; real Beatrix Potter and Borrowers stuff, The real imagined England we all conjure up in our minds. It’s just fantastic here.
It took so long to get to where I wanted to – where I might find a country footpath, that I gave up the idea of walking and just kept on cycling. I got to the edge of town in just about twenty minutes alright, and then cycled onto a bridleway connecting this town with the one seven miles away. It was still almost the same as a typical country footpath, but was a driveable lane with the occasional house set back amongst the trees.
After forty five minutes I thought I’d better turn back as it would take another forty five minutes to get home which would make it eight thirty p.m.; and still that meal to prepare. And even the simplest meals take several times longer to organise in this hellhole than they would normally do.
Sure enough, although I dived into meal preparation the very second I got back, even though I was desperate for a cup of tea and a bit of a chill out, it is now 11.20 p.m. and the meal is only just ready and the boy has only just finished having a shower. There has been no wasting of time. I’ve been on the go all the time, except about ten minutes at some point to have that cup of tea.
So, once again the boy will only get about seven hours sleep, nowhere near enough for a thirteen year old ! He needs a minimum of nine and possibly ten.
I shouldn’t have gone for that cycle ride, I suppose. But it was either that or my sanity.