Sunday 12 June 2011

My God! Have you Seen Bob?

"Oh, I forgot to say! I saw Bob last week!

You remember Allotment-Bob? Big bloke, red face? Got his own plumbing business? You know, the guy who's really into cycling?

I tell you what, he looked awful! I couldn't believe it.

He's so skinny now, I didn't recognise him at first. His face was really grey and bony and he sort of shuffled over to say hello. Weirdest thing was his voice!! D'you remember how loud he used to be? He was sooo funny, always taking the mick and teasing the bar staff. Well, once I'd realised it was him and we were chatting, I couldn't quite work out what else was different, then I sussed it - I could barely hear a word he said! His voice was all quiet and he looked down at the table most of the time we were talking!

Of course, I asked him what on earth had happened, trying not to seem too shocked by the way he looked. Mind you, it was hard not to stare at this weird tube thing he had in his throat! It was like something out of Frankenstein!

He told me the most awful story, but It seems a bit far-fetched. Perhaps he's cracking up, a bit paranoid or something, you know?

Poor bloke says he crashed his car last year. It was a pretty nasty accident, apparently. He was out one night during all that snow we had a Xmas or two ago and his car span into a ditch. The steering wheel column crushed into his ribcage and trapped one of his legs.

Once they'd cut him out of the car, they freed up the leg and rushed both to hospital, leg packed in ice. They couldn't save it though, so now he's got a false one.

On top of that, he says (This bit's really bad...) that he got pneumonia in hospital but no-one diagnosed it for weeks! The doctor told him it's damaged his lungs now, and they won't get better. He reckoned that's why he looks so grey.

Honestly, he could hardly breath enough to talk to me! I felt crap! What can you say? It's really hard not to stare, too. I bet he knew how awful I thought he looked. I was squirming! Apparently That's why he needs the tube in his neck - a trachy-something, I forget what he called it. Helps him breath I think.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, he was in hospital for months trying to get over losing the leg. They had to teach him to walk all over again - can you imagine? Said it made him feel like a baby. Then, what with the pneumonia as well, he needed loads of physio and counselling to get over things.

Of course, he had to stop working and the plumbing business went bust! Mary (you remember Mary, his wife? She's a teacher or something isn't she?) did her best to keep it going, but she couldn't be in two places at once. She ran herself ragged trying to be with him at the hospital day in and day out, then going home and trying to do the books and send out invoices and schedule in all the jobs, but it was just impossible. Her work were amazing apparently, so that was something. She can't have any more time off now though, so Bob says he just has to sit at home all day waiting for her to get back.

But do you know what the weirdest bit of all was? He says it took him months to get any help from the DSS and when they finally said he'd get some sickness benefits, they reckoned he only had two months left to claim and then he'd get nothing!! He was actually trying to tell me that they'd made him go to "work interviews" or something to find him a job!!! As if!! What the bloody hell do they think poor old Bob could do now? With that tube thingy dangling out of his bloody neck and one leg? He can't breath for God's sake, anyone could see that??

He's 55! Started his apprenticeship at 15! 40 years he's worked and he's had that plumbing business for 30 of them! He's paid his taxes all that time, and now, after the couple of years he's had, he says he's not going to get any benefits at all!! Because Mary works or something, but she's only a teacher and she's had to go part time to look after Bob, so she only gets about 12k a year now. I said it couldn't be right mate, no-one could get by on 12k a year, but he says he definitely doesn't get any sickness benefits at all now. He's appealing it - on top of everything else, poor sod's got to go through a bloody tribunal now and plead for a few quid, but he says it takes about a year just to get to the tribunal.

D'you know what, looking at him, I'm not sure he'll even make it through the year!! He really did look shocking.

What d'you reckon? It can't be right can it? I know they say we've got to cut back, but anyone can see Bob can't work! Oh yeah and they lost the house too - do you remember the house? And the garden do you remember? He loved that bloody garden. He had it so crammed with fruit trees and veg and flowers he took on all that allotment and filled that up too! Course, he can't do any gardening now, so he's had to give it up, but you know, I reckon out of the whole story, that was the bit that upset him most. It was so embarrassing, I didn't know where to look, but he was crying when he told me about the apple trees - actually crying!!

Have you heard anything about this? Is it really true that someone like Bob could be just left to rot like that? No help, no benefits now until he retires after all those years of paying his taxes, he's just got to live off Mary? Can't be easy for a bloke like him.

Let's face it, he's not going to be working again. Anyone could see that.

Here, Pete! Pete! Over here! Alright mate! Hope you've got Insurance, have you heard about Bob........


  1. That made me angry and very sad. Unfortunately I can recognise too many similarities to people we work with. I hope people don't think it's exaggerated I can assure them it's NOT. The whole system is crap and there are even sadder stories out there.
    I love the style of your blogs even if they make me angry, the content not you :)

  2. Sad to say that we all know Bob, Geordie Bob,, Bob the Jock,Scouser Bob..... Shame we couldn't add Dave to the list to replace Bob.

  3. Another great blog sue, it cant even be made up pure fact.

  4. This is so awful that I am quite honestly lost for words! How do these people *sleep* at night?

  5. Well Mr Cameron PROMISED that the government would still help the genuinely needy. So perhaps he should be asked if this person fits that description in his eyes.
    Simple answer please Comedy Dave - Yes or No?

  6. I know we need focus on those who've had a good contribution record, obviously as there's a particular threat on that; with the increasing rhetoric about restoring the contributory principle, though, I worry about people who haven't made many or any contributions (to NI) through no fault of their own - like myself and my fiancée. In the case of Labour, I'm a little reassured by the idea of taking a broader meaning of 'contribution', but still... the rhetoric is worrying.

    I make contributions, I feel, with voluntary work for charities and community groups and so on, as that's possible without as much commitment as a job. I can't make commitments that are too strong, as I can't honestly expect to keep them, as whatever-the-heck-is-wrong-with-me (well, I know some things, but the newer stuff is more of a problem) is too unpredictable. I blogged a while back (as I do, infrequently) on the idea of worth/value, with relevance to sick and disabled people, that expounded on that idea more. It was really a reaction to a post from LatentExistence. Anyway... meh.

  7. @Sam

    Yeah, I make no "contribution" because I've grown up too battered and exhausted. What I would like to say in my "defence" though, is that my consequent self-awareness and in-depth knowledge of the psychology of abuse means that never in my life will I make someone else suffer because of my own problems; I will never become a bully or abuser or rapist myself. A purely philosophical point? Consider this:

    Workplace bullying costs the UK economy approx. £14billion per year [Unite].

    Domestic violence costs the UK economy approx. £5.8billion per year [Attorney General's office]

    I cost the economy less than quite a few people in work.

  8. That's one of the hardest things about being sick with an invisible illness. My illness has killed all my dreams and aspirations. Instead of fulfilling them I had to spend all my energy on just surviving. People don't realise how much strength and effort and character it takes to survive some mental illnesses.

    So you put in all that work just to survive and try to get better, which feels like climbing Mount Everest, but you have nothing in terms of achievement (money, status) which is how people judge each other's worth in general, to show for it.

    To the world you're just a workshy benefit scrounging 30 something loser who lives with his mother. I feel so humiliated by this illness I just stay indoors most of the time and try to avoid people, even relatives.

    People don't care why you lack money, status and achievement, they just look down on you with utter disgust and contempt and treat you accordingly.

    Even if some people inherit their wealth and status, people still look up to them and see them as special, that's the way it is, cold harsh and unforgiving.

  9. [QUOTE]Terry said...

    Well Mr Cameron PROMISED that the government would still help the genuinely needy. So perhaps he should be asked if this person fits that description in his eyes.
    Simple answer please Comedy Dave - Yes or No?[/QUOTE]

    Very good point terry but you have to remember that David Cameron doesn't read blogs so your viewpoint falls on deaf ears

    He does know of this blog I'm sure as most mp's do as i have repeatedly over the months highlighted it to them in letters and emails but they always show their true colours and never chip in to give reassurance no they rather you just worried in silence at home which in my mind is a wicked thing to do just like in the war in which Hitler sent millions to there death saying to them he would make sure they came to no harm as they travelled by train to the gas chambers aimed at eliminating the sick physically and intellectually disabled people and political undesirables in the 1930s and 1940s.

    Nazis also targeted homosexuals and the clergy and anyone else who they thought would cause them a problem

    You would think that owing to a very bad history in the persecution of the sick and disabled that David Cameron would offer them complete protection like any civilised person would ? but i guess David Cameron and co aren't civilised at all so we will have to suffer the consequences once again and live in poverty

    Rich conservatives worldwide are a very dangerous group of people and are not to be underestimated the only country that can stand up to them is north Korea it's just a pity they treat their own people badly with poverty but at least they stand up to the rich conservatives which is at least something in their favour

  10. Hey, people vote for this stuff. Bashing the poor, sick, disabled and vulnerable is an easy way to boost your popularity now.

    What does that tell you about human nature?

  11. And we musn't forget that the last government introduced these new welfare / benefit tests, and as a Labour supporter I'm not sure that they would roll them back if elected.
    It may be a little disingenuous to mention the Nazis and Cameron inthe same blog post, but I understand what you mean.
    Unless we return to a left-wing government with the foresight of Attlee, which is highly unlikely given that we're skint and will be for the forseeable future, then we will definitely be returning to the conditions that working people experienced in Dickensian times. That would be a very appropriate tag to label Call Me Dave and his cohorts. Finishing off what Thatcher started.
    Just what will happen to all of the people who are shortly to become unemployed, and lose their homes? Are we going to see mass homelessness, a return to soup kitchens, perhaps?

  12. [QUOTE]terry
    It may be a little disingenuous to mention the Nazis and Cameron inthe same blog post, but I understand what you mean.[/QUOTE]

    The reason i mentioned it terry is that i have a elderly German friend whose brother was disabled and gassed by Hitler who said he would be OK
    So you need to take what conservatives say with a pinch of salt
    However the public did vote for them but not to lead the country they had to have help which they got from the liberal democrats

    At the next election their votes hopefully will be down but with labour not our friend also things will still be very much bleak for the sick and disabled in the coming years and the persecution will be never ending until their death

    As Hitler took many years to achieve his goals David Cameron and co along with Ed milliband will also need time to destroy all of us it wont happen overnight much to their displeasure but destroy us they will over time

  13. The Germans voted for Hitler - they paid the price.

    "Just what will happen to all of the people who are shortly to become unemployed, and lose their homes? Are we going to see mass homelessness, a return to soup kitchens, perhaps?"

    I hope so. Let's see how committed they are to this premise of survival of the fittest!

  14. And what does Chris Grayling say when the Work and Pensions Committee ask him about the story of Bob? That the Bobs of this country are too expensive to support.

    Call me Bob.

  15. That's right - he says "screw you, hippie". Cruelty is an institution here in Britain - the whole country is turning into Winterbourne View.

    That's humanity for you, and that's why I drink.

  16. The house of lords should be a place of policy scrutiny but with the vast majority of them past there sell by date and being half a sleep they just go round and round in circles in a state of dementia

    The only time they look awake is when their discussing themselves on getting rid of hereditary peers most shameful if you ask me when they should be protecting the vulnerable

    As for the royal family they don't even know of our existence and what we have to put up with as their staff protect them from what they see and hear so if they don't get on the INTERNET for themselves and look in on blogs like this they'll be none the wiser

  17. We're a cruel, cruel nation.

    We are crule to our sick people.

    We are cruel to our young 'study hard, go to uni, work your backside off to make sure you get a good degree and when it is all over, you've got those debts, we'll line you up and we'll kick you for daring to have been born in a country that has no intentions whatsoever of ensuring there is enough work for you', don't get a degree and the dreams, the debts and the ambition that comes with it, and we'll berate you, bully you and condemn you all the more.

    Dare to be one of those who are handed their redundancy at the behest of some millionaire and we'll kick you, hound you for daring to be the unlucky one. And any employee who dares refuse to put you through the Blame Game Converyor Belt of the DWP, know they too will join you.

    Go on strike for better pay and conditions, or to just have a better life with food and heat, never mind to dream of ever having an apple tree just like Bob's and we'll bray at your selfishness for making it difficult for us to have our entitlements of holidays, transport, services and whatever we wish at minimum, unfair costs.

    We're just a cruel, cruel nasty bunch of people.

    I despair, I really despair.

  18. David Cameron’s philosophy has always been making sure people are in control and that politicians are their servants, not their masters. His belief in social responsibility, not state control, as the best way to solve problems is already evident in the decisions he has made since the General Election.?

  19. I myself am a staunch royalist and always have been and being part of the establishment whose family roots go back to 1918 with the bank of England

    my condemnation of this conservative party has never been greater than it is today and am deeply ashamed to be a British citizen words cant express my very deepest sympathies to the sick and disabled and may the good lord show his mercy upon us in the coming years and give us strength and guidance in our darkest hours

  20. I used to live next door to Bob, back when his plumbing business was doing well. He had everything - lovely house, nice car, kids at private school, all the latest gadgets. Thing was, I couldn't afford any of that. I just had a steady job at the office, never earned as much as him. And I didn't have a company *or* my own accountant.

    But I still paid for insurance each month so that if I was ever ill or had an accident my family would be looked after. It meant that I couldn't afford fancy holidays or a new car like he could. But I know how easy it is for accidents to happen, and that most of us take far more from the state during our lifetime than we ever pay into it in taxes. Call me a responsible citizen - or call me a mug - I don't mind.

    Now he is sick and will never work again. He's already cost the NHS more than all the taxes he's ever paid and will need looking after for the rest of his life. I shall probably be paying towards his care out of my taxes until I retire and I don't begrudge him a penny. But sometimes I think that things are not quite as clear cut either one way or the other as they might seem to be.

    Jim, Bob's ex-neighbour.

    ps. Comparing Cameron to Hitler is crass and loses any credibility your argument might have had.

  21. Jim - Must be a different Bob. Bob was never wealthy, had no accountant, did all the books himself. His kids went to the local comp and they still had 20k to pay off their mortgage when the accident happened.

    Just an ordinary self employed plumber. Of course there are blokes like your Bob - if they could afford private school, they almost certainly had critical illness cover.

    Of course "nothing is simple" But the government are trying to make it very simple. If you weren't rich, just a hard working person who got sick, unlucky. That's WAY too simple for me.

    And I never ever refer to Hitler, but if others choose to I can certainly see the point they make.

  22. Jim - I looked into insurance and all a few months back (everyone seemed to be going on about how the government expects it now, so thought I should see how much it'd cost). Now, looked into private medical insurance which would cover accidents and disabilities and when the women over the phone first quoted, I thought it was the yearly price. No chance in hell me and my partner could ever afford that, and my partner earns an average wage and I should be as well when I come out of uni. We live in a tiny flat, eat very cheaply, and try and save what we can (we'd like to have a mortgage one day, but it's looking like we'll both be 35 before we have a deposit put together, and that's only if I manage to get a 'decent' job after uni.) So, private medical insurance is never going to be on the cards. So we looked at life/injury/job insurance (my partner has limited life assurance at work, so at least that's *something*), and unless we were going to give up all savings (and I started another part time job) it wasn't about to happen.

    Now, at the age of 70, when I need my pension and it's not enough, and everyone tells me it was my fault for never owning my house and only renting, can I trade in all this insurance? I can't afford every one of these damn insurances, it seems if I do one thing I damn myself in another.

  23. [QUOTE]Anonymous said...
    PS. Comparing Cameron to Hitler is crass and loses any credibility your argument might have had[/QUOTE].

    I make my own judgements based on my 55 years of living in the UK and having known many mp's in my lifetime. The problem here is i do know how there minds work and yes they are weird at the best of times but i can assure you they are more then a match for the sick and disabled and will do with them as they please panorama or no panorama and you my friend wont even get a look in nor will anyone else for that matter

    The panorama programme the other night in where the vulnerable were being abused was just old news i saw the same thing on panorama when i was 10 and the prime minister then said the same old thing as David Cameron said "i didn't know" of course he knew it's been going on for years

    You have to remember here is that all of the main parties are mainly in agreement with the destruction of the welfare state and that is the case for all countries worldwide and if the conservatives think they can get rid of you they will make no mistake about that and if anyone tells you different you would be a fool to listen

    The fit conservative people of the UK are just plain selfish when it comes to help others so you'll get no joy from them

  24. Another great article! All the non disabled people out there who support the Coalition's benefit proposals for disabled people should read this. One day it could happen to them.

    Stop the proposed time limit to contributory ESA now!

  25. Bob and people like him aren't helped very much by the Government funded model of disability many of the main disability orgs are pushing , a model that views physical and mental impairments as largely irrelevant and stigma and barriers to participation as all.

    This rigid model of disability is recklessly over idealistic and is routinely exploited to secure Government funding and 'savings '.

    It's an externalising model of disability that actually gags and negates people like Bob, invisibilising them along with their impairments, conditions and struggles ,and , precisely because of this rigid abstraction, its also the model that ATOS uses to justify driving people to despair and suicide or finding them fit for work post mortem.

    For sure people like Bob face social prejudice and barriers to participation but with the main disability orgs colluding with Government to creep up behind and box in people on disability benefits to herd them towards the Government and media scapegoating and onslaught it's clear where the main bullying force is coming from.

  26. This comment has been removed by the author.

  27. I just found your wonderful blog and almost in tears with relief - thankyou, thankyou, thankyou for writing this. I'm 21 and have been battling myriad evils for years, the most evil being M.E. and severe depression; as such I got through college by the skin of my teeth (and with a year out and 30% attendance during my last year), then had to drop out of university after barely keeping myself alive/generally losing my mind for 5 months, study and socialising non-existent. I've been on ESA since I left, and, well, to stop waffling about myself, I've been through and am still facing all the same disgusting treatment as everyone here. Thankyou for making me feel less alone, and for fighting the good fight. Thankyou so so much xx
    (Reposted because I missed a word out, duh)

  28. Thank you so much Rach. Every time someone writes what you did it makes it all worthwhile.

    I hope you keep reading. We can fight this together :)))

  29. “Here, Pete! Pete! Over here! Alright mate! Hope you've got Insurance, have you heard about Bob........”

    Pst Sue – My mate Dave knows a an Insurance company we can use, highly recommended he says, so good he’s already invested over £500 million of our money in it.

    When I pointed out to him that that the insurance company he was recommending had had a class action brought against it in the US in 2002 where the company was described as running “Disability Denial Factories”, where former employees had disclosed that the company gave out “Vulture Awards” for the most claims denied and where it came to light that prior to settling with insurance regulators in several states, they offered loans to their claims adjusters and then allowed them to pay off the loans with credits for money saved by denying claims, with this ranking right up there with pimps getting prostitutes addicted to drugs and then controlling them by supplying the drugs, or Mafiosos loaning money and then coercing the borrower into their illegal activities in order to repay them. I also mentioned to him that it had been rated as the second worse insurance company in the US, with a survey of policyholders finding that 45% of policy holders were very dissatisfied and 36 % were only dissatisfied but he only muttered that he didn’t know anything about that, but his chum in the insurance business who was an expert had told him they were OK and that was good enough for him.

    I tried to find 2 reports the BBC aired on the company back in 2007 to show Dave so he would know what they were like too, but after searching all over the Internet, especially on YouTube where I knew they had been, I could no longer find them, nor any mention of the programmes on the BBC’s web site. It’s as if they never existed, but there are references to all these broadcasts all over the web so I know my memory is not playing tricks on me with, with one of them on YouTube having an announcement saying the uploader had closed their YouTube account and when I later told him this he just shrugged, patted me on the head and told me not to worry, that he knew best and that I was to just leave him to it and everything would be OK.

    Mmmmmm, does make you think ?

    As to Hitler’s name raising its ugly head, (as it appears to do increasingly more so these days when Cameron’s name is mentioned), that’s easy, ask any historian and they will tell you how the National Socialist government in 1930’s Germany manipulated the national media into publishing propaganda that portrayed the sick and disabled as workshy scroungers of no positive value to society and how the same propaganda was used to cause further racial and cultural divide by whipping up a media frenzy around Judaism exactly the same as our coalition Government is doing today, only Dave has substituted Hitler’s Jews for followers of the Islamic faith.

    Is it no wonder Hitler’s name comes up so often? And that’s without boring you by going further into 1930’s German history, where, if you look, you will find many other striking similarities to National Socialist policies of this time, with this being the reason Black Triangle, the Anti-Defamation Campaign in Defence of Disability Rights represent themselves with a black triangle, a black triangle being what the sick and disabled were made to display prominently on their clothing in Hitler’s Germany so that the world could recognise them for what you were to the government, workshy, non productive members of society.

    I despair the world we live in today and hope that when Cameron’s time comes, hidden away in a bunker, hiding from the angry mob who realises they have been conned he has the courage, like Hitler had, to pull the trigger.

  30. Rach
    sue will look after you to the best of her ability

  31. Sue, thank you for sharing this. I don't know whether to repost because of the profanity in the title and the fact that it reads like an exaggerated fiction (I hope that people do not recognise it as such, because reading the comments it seems to be blatantly truthful in its level of description) but I cannot take that this is happening everywhere. I wish we could do something. Why can't we seem to make them end it?

  32. Jim - Perhaps Bob, like me, thought he did have insurance cover: I was confused by seeing that portion of my monthly paycheck that was removed for "national insurance".

    I didn't take out private insurance because I had almost nothing left after paying my bills each month and extra insurance just couldn't be squeezed in to my very tight budget. I looked into it, but the premiums were just too high and it seemed there were so many clauses about certain illnesses and situations they wouldn't pay for that I foolishly thought the government provided insurance would give more complete cover (albeit at a lower payout).

    I just didn't believe that any government was going to remove all payments to seriously ill people who had paid their contributions. I foolishly thought no government could be so cruel or unfair.

  33. It's "Funny" that anyone can enter our country and get benefits and a house fit for a king although they are illegal, sometimes criminals, have never paid into our system and have no intention of learning our language or getting a job !!

  34. Interesting to see some commentators saying: "I paid my taxes so I thought I'd get something back". Is it really that straightforward?

    Sometime, try this...

    Add up all the taxes you pay. Then take off what you cost the government. Your tax credits, child benefit, any other benefits you get. Then take off the cost of any services you use. About £6000 per year for each child at school. Perhaps £5,000 for a brief stay in hospital. Perhaps £50,000 if you need a major operation. Then there's your state pension - perhaps £5,000 per year for each year that you claim it. Once you've done that, you can see how much there is left to pay for the defence of our country, the police, libraries, roads, parliament, prisons, forests that we didn't want to sell off, public sector pensions, and of course benefits for those who are unable to pay any tax at all. Not much left is there? In fact when you do the sums, you start to wonder how the government can manage to afford anything at all...

    So, if you want to start getting money back because "you have paid your taxes" you might be in for a big shock.

  35. "So, if you want to start getting money back because 'you have paid your taxes' you might be in for a big shock."

    Really added up ALL of your taxes have you???
    ALL of them?? The VAT, the Income Tax, the NI contributions. What about the employers who have every fiddle going, the ones who pay as little as possible to the government?? What about the employers who don't pay the employee enough to live on never mind enough to take out extra insurance, maybe go ask Northern Rock and RBS why they never had enough insurance to stop them having to go cap in hand and ask for bail outs???

    I was well for more than half my life I rarely went to the doctor, I had no minor or major operations in fact the only medication I took that was prescribed, was the contraceptive pill. I paid for any meds over the counter.
    Now I have had 2 c-sections (if not neither me nor my kids would be here since I would have died) and one skin graft (to "cure" my condition) and I'm dependant on prescription meds because if not I will be in a ball unable to do anything. That's the reality of my life, ohh and as for pensions what pensions by the time I (a 30 something woman) get to pensionable age there will be NO state pension.

    My husband and I have worked since before leaving school, I worked full time hours while doing a part time collage course, with no help from anyone.

    And now you say I cant have back a little of what I paid in??
    I hope you stay in good health and never contract a condition like mine, one anyone can get at any time, ohhhh and what I have has no "cure" and dangerous treatments, that DONT work.

    Maybe think before posting ehhh???

  36. Bob gets virtually nothing because he was self-employed: an employee would get unemployment benefit straight away and, after assessment, incapacity benefit. But not if you are self-employed (yes, it is in theory possible to get yourself classified as unemployed but it is made near-impossible) - the civil service seem to be paranoid about the self-employed.
    It is possible for self-employed to get insurance cover against being so injured or ill that one is unable to work and it is *not* prohibitively expensive - it used to cost me £3 per week when I was working full-time - but you have to know that the welfare state doesn't protect the self-employed in order to even think about it.