This week has, to be honest, not been great. The weather has been grim, work has been a challenge and to add insult to injury, on Friday I received a letter from HMRC asking for over five grand!
WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK?
My pay from the college is PAYE and anything extra I get is carefully accounted for. I am a deeply flawed person but always pay my taxes. Starbucks and Google I am not.
I opened the letter at about 11 o’clock at night. I was feeling in a good mood after relaxing after some really bad TV. I had been letting out the week’s frustrations by screaming like a madwoman at Celebrity Big Brother, specifically the orange faced monster that is Gemma Collins (see above). Much of this week I have spent the evenings in bed watching Celebrity Big Brother. Yes, I really am living the dream!
Opening the letter from HMRC sent me into a downward spiral of terror. I felt sick. I do have the money (I am very lucky), but giving it to the tax man would mean a massive chunk of my savings would go up in smoke. In other words no holidays, no treats, no fun. It would mean a very, very depressing few months for me and the kids. I went to bed feeling sick and woke up feeling even worse.
Fortunately I have a lovely friend called Rick who helps me sort out the tax man. Rick is very sensible and sane but he even he was baffled by this letter. It literally made no sense at all. It was bizarre.
I can sort of laugh about it now, but it put me into the most terrible gloom yesterday. Apologies to anyone I sent weird apocalyptic messages to – the men in white coats have not come for me yet. Fortunately I have the money and also good friends who can help me deal with this insanity. A lot of people would have neither money nor friends to help them and a letter like this could tip them over the edge – the papers have been full of the story of the inquest into the death of Frances McCormack, the woman who hanged herself because she faced eviction from her home after she fell foul of bedroom tax rules.
I can think of nothing worse than being evicted from my home and my heart goes out to anyone in this situation. I think decent secure housing is a human right, which is why I will be going on the demo against the Housing Bill next weekend. Home is where we go to hide from the world – all my darkest thoughts involve losing my home. When I am stressed or down I panic about my sanctuary being taken away. This is why I ever, ever get my hands on any real money I will give it to charities that help the homeless. The idea of living on the streets truly horrifies me.
I am sorry if this blog post is a bit of a misery memoir, but I have really been feeling it since I went back to work after Christmas. I feel very flat and lifeless. I have had major depressive episodes in my life and know it could be worse, but there is not a lot of colour in the world at the moment. I am not a winter person and the cold and darkness sap my strength. I am trying to make changes in my life and this can be draining. Life can be draining.
I am, however, not giving up on my writing. There is something there and I had a couple of encouraging discussions last week with both an agent and a book editor. I need to work at it for the next month or so – the plan is to add another 10,000 words or so and then knock out a sequence that I loved writing, but now just gets in the way of the story. I knew this anyway, but emotions can get in the way of logic. However, I know that it must go and go it shall. I am absolutely determined to make it work and weirdly I often work best when I am a bit down in the dumps – when I am happier I am too hedonistic to be as effective. I made myself write last night and it made me feel better. I created a new and (I think) entertaining character.
Also, music. Music kept me going in the teenage years and music was medicine as I lay there in a tax induced panic yesterday afternoon. I listened to the new Suede album. It was good. I liked it a lot – the stand out track for me was I Don’t Know How to Reach You.
Though nothing will ever be as good as this:
No choice but to just keep on keeping on.