Make Poverty Hysterical (or mildly less agonizing….)

Poverty is the zeitgeist, it is just so. fucking. now.

So, ever the prophet of what is ‘in’ I have been experimenting with poverty for years.

Fortunately I’ve had just enough sporadic bouts of wealth to make sure I don’t end up sleeping in a doorway on Mare Street; but who knows what the future holds.

Much like segways, being poor can have an eccentric mystique, but it can also be quite hard to handle.

Here are some truths on the realities of poverty, and how to do it well.

There is nothing romantic about being poor …

Candles are surprisingly expensive.


You are a fountain of wealth …

Now, I’ll be perfectly honest here, no one wants to hear about how miserable your life is for longer than 10 minutes (max). End your tale of woe with a punch line and save your tears for a vial, when full, sell them on eBay as Jeremy Paxman’s.


Where there’s a Will there’s a way …

Get in with the rich and the old, and advise against a flu jab.


Like a leper …

Ok, you probably don’t have leprosy, which is a great start, but you will feel on the fringe of society when you are lacking funds. Money is a strange thing and without it you find yourself watching everyone else with different eyes, in its absence you see it’s overwhelming presence in our distorted version of this world. It’s become so habitual it’s almost innate. Retain this knowledge when your pot is full, you’ll be the wiser for it.


Tattered rags to rugs ….

A delightful shag-pile rug can be fashioned from your last shreds of dignity.


Seek refuge with the religious (and the homeless) …

As impious as you may be, churches are a sanctuary of silence and among the most reassuring places you can go when you are poor. Light a candle for whatever you want (I suggest hope) and relax. No ones trying to sell you anything you ‘aint buying here.


The world isn’t against you …

It just doesn’t really care.


Inanimate objects however, are against you and are prejudice against the poor …

The coffee you spilled, the table that you stubbed your toe on, the bike pedal that hit your shin, again, the cup you smashed; they’re all out to get you. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you you’re overreacting when these things bring tears of fury to your eyes. They’ve probably got money, and didn’t see the way that coffee looked at you.


Do whatever it takes to pay your rent …

With a roof over your head, you’re less likely to lose it.

Save the pennies ….

You never know when you’ll need a pound for the electric.


Soup kitchen …

A bag of lentils, some garlic, onion, stock, carrot and potato could feed the 5,000 and cost less than £5. Invite round Dirty Mike and the boys and you’ve got a dinner party, you trendy prole. Just make sure they know it’s BYO.


You will inevitably draw the short straw at one point in time …

And the likelihood will be it’s the final one. Take whatever it is as personal attack form the heavens above. This moment in time will only be amusing in hindsight, when you’re rich. Promptly buy yourself a packet of high tar cigarettes and smoke as many as you can. Why prolong your stay at Bleak House?


Every morning dress in mourning ….

Show life the grim respect it’s due and dress in black, it’s the best friend of the beggared. Better to look somber than cheap.


This isn’t a myth ….

There really are people all over the world dying and starving. Unless you’re doing both take your situation with a pinch of salt, then add it to your plain rice supper.


Losing weight? Become a well rounded person …

If you’re doing poor well, you’re spending your last 99p on refined literature not refined sugar and are therefore approaching ultimate wisdom (and emaciation.) Without a job you find a lot of time on your hands, don’t let them become idle. Take this opportunity to add to your attributes. Learn to play the piano, bake bread, write a short story (not a novel – you’re not planning on being poor that long) watch all of The Empire 500, read the poor greats (there are many of them). Do whatever you feel improves yourself. The work will come and who knows, it might come from one of these.


If all else fails just lie on the floor and wait for something to happen …

Invariably it does, just do it at home so it doesn’t involve a rapist. 


Make light of your situation…

Nothing brightens up a little squat hole like a few fairy lights. Shove them on your dead tree that you couldn’t afford (be bothered) to water and bask in its warm glow, saves on heating too.


Waste not want not …

If you’re on the breadline, why on earth aren’t you eating it?


“Awight gowgus?”

Next time a builder asks you this, stop and explain all of the reasons why you’re not. He won’t cost a penny and is therefore much cheaper than a therapist. So, offload on him, he’s used to a weight on his shoulders.  


You are not a failure …

And if someone calls you one, take it personally but do not get offended. Poor and angry is common (trust me). Hope they didn’t mean it and have enough faith in yourself to know that you’re not.


You’re making headlines …

You’re one of a record breaking 3 million unemployed! Congratulations! Bet your friends with jobs aren’t on the news.


“Take a load on me” ….

Learn from my mistakes. As hard as your situation may be, as many bad things that hit you one after another, if you are incredibly lucky, and have someone who loves you enough to share some of your burden (make you feel safe, feed you, keep you warm, make you smile  at your most morose…) stop wallowing and thank your lucky stars you have them. In reality that is a lot more than most people. But because humans are stupid and self-engrossed, we tend only to realize this when they’re gone.


Move to Zimbabwe …

You’ll be a billionaire.

Once you’ve exhausted this list, it might be time to swallow the pride, the ego, whatever it is and just get any job. There is always one going somewhere and it will invariably be more interesting, in whatever variation, than the dole.


Motherisms Feat. Daughter …

Twenty-five years ago today I arrived on this planet with no idea what it had in store for me, or what the hundreds of other little people on it had in store for me. With no notion of what an idea even was, the sole thing I knew was my mother. So,  fresh out of a week in the womb, what better day for some Motherisms ….

We’ve had a birthday bottle of wine, I am rather pissed in the shop  …

Me: I need dried fruit, then I wont bemoan the lack of chocolate.

Mum: You can have chocolate.

Me: Not today! As of today I am an icon of health, albeit a completely trollied one.

I stride off towards the figs.

Mum: Darling, do try not to look like a mad person.

My mother is talking about what I should do with her flat when she dies ..

Me: Must we always talk about your demise?

Mum: We’re not talking about my demise, we’re planning ahead.

Bob Dylan is on, we’ve had an arduous day ….

Bob Dylan: The answers my friend …

Mum: Are blowing in the wind? Yeah, sorry Bob. Not good enough anymore.

Kingsford The Great hits the nail on the head as usual …

“It does not matter what you do, as long as you behave honourably to those who love you.”

Mother is talking about me possibly being a boy …

Mum: I thought you were a boy for a while, then you weren’t. Still a tenacious little thing. Survived that car crash. I think it’s why you’ve got anxiety problems.

Me: Because of the crash or because I survived?

We are at lunch, it is time for dessert and my mother is eyeing the trifle suspiciously, the waitress comes over …

Mum: Does the trifle have sherry?

Waitress: Let me check ……… Yes it does.

Mum: I’ll take it.

I had been upset to the point of anger earlier in the day …

Mum: How’s the rage darling?

Me: I’ve moved on to apathetic desolation.

Mum: Impotent despair.

Me: It’s the same thing.

Mum: Sounds better.

In regards to me wanting to be a writer, it is later in the day of rage, I have gone full circle and am back at rage ...

Mum: What do you want to say?

Me: A lot. Mostly I want the people who have fucked me over to be aware that, though I may not have said anything, I know what they’ve done. And make them laugh while I’m telling them.

Mum: Riiiiiiight …. You need to make a list of these people.

Me: How’s that going to help what I write?

Mum: It wont. It’ll help me track them down.

Mum about our old house ….

“Now the garden looks like a horrible little park in Woking. The weeping willow has gone, just nasty little conifers in situ.”

It’s pissing with rain, we are zipping across the hills, my mother shouts over Bob Marley ..

“Go crap car! Go!”

Debating whether we should do the Euromillions in the hope of aiding our imminent financial crisis …

Mum: Euro millions, we should do it, I’ve won it before.

I look at mother in bemusement.

Me: You’ve won it before? The Euromillions?

Mum: Yes, £2.75.

We’re listening to the radio, the Sugarbabes come on …

Me: What does that even mean?

Mum: What?

Me: “We’ll rastafi gonna be down low.”

Mum: Only God knows darling, and even he’s not sure.

A pissed old man reverses his old 4×4 for us with verve ….

Mum: That’s what I love about Devon, it’s wild. It’s where the fairies and the gypsies live ………..

We keep driving for a few seconds then mum points ….

Mum: … and there’s where Rupert Harvey pissed in the tank of the kamikaze car, got us all the way to Iddesleigh somehow.

Me: Okkkk …. What’s the kamikaze car?

Mum: Long story, his father was an authority on dromedaries.

A woman of around 90 walks across the road …

Me: Watch out! Old woman wandering.

Mum: She’s the same age as me!

Me: She’s got a good 20 years on you mum.

Mum: Is that what I’m going to look like? I want to die.

The adverts come on ...

TV: Tampax with pearl extract. Pearl, by Tampax.

Mum: Oh wow man. That’s going to make me buy it.

Me: Mmm … complete with sea creatures.

We stride in to the cinema full of gusto, ready to watch Jane Eyre …

Mum: I will have one human and one over sixty.

Ticket man: It’s not on ’til tomorrow.

Mum: Righty ho … See you tomorrow ..

Mother bemoaning the pitfalls of writing, again …

Mum: But you won’t earn enough money doing it. See, in my day, if you were in a relationship, you were a unit and usually got a house.

Me: Times are not so simple now mother,  you can’t just expect a house. We asked for equality, we got something in-between. We’re stuck in a horrible sort of limbo.

Mum has stopped listening …

Mum: AA Gil’s very good in The Sunday Times …

About her friend taking her in his Porsche Boxster …

“Incredible thing. Like a giants ejaculation.”

Need I say more ….