Monday, 28 December 2015

Sally Gallops On...Working the System


  It's always the same this time of the year. We've overspent and need to retrench. Government bodies along with the rest of us. 
  The tears were hardly dry from the annual sob-along to "Feed the Birds" and a local council was seeking to cut its benefit payments to Sally Kerridge.
  Sally had two part-time jobs. She was an usherette at the Royal Opera House and a TV extra. I once saw her lurch down a corridor in Holby City with the papers about to fall out of the patient's file she was not quite holding. During takes in the Eastenders greasy spoon she would actually eat the fry-up. 
  'Have to reset, everyone, sorry - the girl behind Letitia has eaten her egg and her beans again!'
  Sally clarified, 'I was leaving my bacon til last as it's my favourite.'
  She took a case to Equity. She was jostled getting out of carriage, wide shot in the first series of Downtown Abbey. She insisted that Dame Maggie Smith had made bustle to bustle contact with her, which constituted 'Reacting with Principal Actor' so the fee ought to have been higher. Equity automatically diverts Sally's calls to the Fossils for Children department at the Natural History Museum; Sally has never been any the wiser. 
  Where Sally is wise is in ensuring that the amount she earns from being an usherette and an extra is just low enough always to keep her eligible for benefit payments.
  She part-owns a horse, by the way. He's called Meadows and is stabled in a field beside the M25. Meadows is so docile we've nicknamed him Ravaged Wasteland. When she mentions Meadows, Sally gallops on the spot until we nod to indicate that we know she means the horse she part-owns. Sometimes we don't nod for quite a time. Sally just gallops on.
  She inherited sixty thousand pounds when her mother died, opened a new bank account with it and used half of it for a face lift, the other for holidays and some other nice, little treats. She said she didn't need to declare the amount to the benefits office as the money had come to her not from earnings but through mourning. 
  I suspect that someone other than Sally thought of that.
  The local council decided that jointly being an usherette and an extra weren't earning Sally enough and sent her on a course to make her more universally employable. 
  The course was decoupage. 
  Sally decoupaged the front of her recently dead mother's wardrobe with pages from Psychologies Magazine; and in the 'anything to add' box on her benefits' claim form wrote: 
  £16.50 travel for taxi required to take my decoupage project into the evening class at Kingsway Princeton College and show the tutor to be marked. As you people sent me on the course in the first place, I should not be out of pocket on account of it.

  She (and we) are still waiting for the council's response. 


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