One evening as I lay slumped on the sofa, with the TV remote out of reach, I was forced to watch a programme which focused on three families surviving life on state benefits, nothing unusual in that I hear you say. It wouldn’t have been my first choice of viewing but I couldn’t be bothered to get up and change the channel. Anyway I thought it might enlighten me, help me to count my blessings and maybe curb some of my moaning. The families lived in the north of England and the programme followed them in their day to day lives to demonstrate the struggles that they encounter while living on benefits. The first looked at a single dad, trying to bring up his daughter on very little and highlighted the trials he faced trying to secure work around looking after his daughter with little support from friends or family. His struggle was not helped by the fact he was severely dyslexic. My heart went out to him as he appeared to really care for his daughter and put her needs before his own. However little he had, and there were no luxuries in evidence, he seemed to make everything fun for his daughter, material things didn’t matter. A few jam sandwiches in a Lidl carrier bag, taken to the park for a picnic on a summers day equated to a feast for his daughter on an adventurous day out with endless possibilities. We could all learn a thing or two from him. It happened to be his birthday during the shooting of the programme and when the day arrived, he admitted, as he opened his birthday card from his parents, that he would welcome some cash. Alas, the card was empty of cash, but oh joy! a voucher to have a tattoo! The poor guy tried to look suitably pleased and embrace the notion but we knew he would have preferred the cash. So off he went and had his daughters name emblazoned up his arm, all the while trying to look brave and smile through the pain.
What is the fixation we have as a nation to have tatoos? Did I miss something? Why would the parents of the guy in the programme think their son could possibly benefit from body art over say, some new clothes or a bill paid or even a trip to Alton Towers. At least he would get some enjoyment from that.
I don’t get it. The reason I felt the need to get on my high horse here was because the other two families portrayed had their priotities ‘arse about face’ to an even bigger extent!
Family number 2 – Single mother of two, pregnant and trying to make it as a burlesque performer. Nothing wrong in that, no, it shows a desire to succeed, yes? Except this poor girl hadn’t an ounce of talent. My left ear has more potential and I felt the show gave her a platform to make an even bigger ass of herself. Not one person she engaged with was honest with her. The majority of her unemployment/child benefits was spent on trying to improve her profile on social media, she paid a photographer to take pictures of her to boost her followers which failed and she too was plastered in tatoos! In fact her entire upper body was covered with images of her children. Would a photograph in a nice frame not suffice? Now I dont know how much a tattoo costs, but I’m pretty sure they dont come cheap. The poor girl also hired out a recording studio, fifteen minutes at a time as it was very expensive, to record a song – OH MY CHRIST! I can’t tell you how bad it was! I felt angry that people were exploiting her, taking her money when she hasn’t a cat in hells chance of ever making it as a burlesque performer or a recording artist, no more than I have! The small issue of being pregnant didn’t seem to put any kind of fly in the ointment either. In situations like this, you hope there is someone who can support and offer guidance so I was delighted and relieved when her mother made an appearance (I did wonder who was looking after the kids while all this entreprenarial stuff was going on) Anyhoo, suprise suprise, the mother was just an older version of her daughter, also covered in tatoos, missing a few teeth and was one of those women who didn’t think it necessary to invest in a bra, even though she appeared to live in a nice, strappy, off white camisole the majority of the time. I wish her daughter the best of luck and she might even make it one day, just look at the reality TV shows around right now!
It gets better (or worse depending on your perspective) Number 3 was a ‘David Beckham’ wannabe. I kid you not. It seems his goal was to just look like his idol, not actually seek employment as his stunt double or anything as forward thinking as that. This guy looked more like the dad from the american show’Family guy’. I really hope Mr Beckham wasn’t tuned in that night or he wont be getting much sleep for a long time to come.
The guy on the show was about twice the size of his idol and had undergone plastic surgery on his face which cost thousands! He no more looked like David Beckham than I look like the Mona Lisa! His latest plan was to have liposuction on his stomach. The poor guy was sure this was all that was needed to finally resemble David. Deluded or what?? I didn’t know whether to laugh or shout at the TV or cry or write to my MP (must find out who that is…). How stupid can one person be? Okay, so he’s claiming state benefit and taking out loans to cover the cost of his surgery! How are some people allowed out?? Anyway back to the liposuction. We, the viewers were treated to the live show and got to watch the fat being sucked out from various points on the guys stomach. He was having it done under local anaesthetic to get the full experience, however it came to an abrupt end as he called a halt to the procedure mid-way through as was too painful. I just couldn’t muster up any sympathy for him, in fact I nearly choked laughing on my bonbons. I thought the point of the show was to highlight the everyday struggles people on benefits suffer, as in FINDING A JOB and PAYING THE BILLS! am I on the right planet?? It’s so comforting to know our taxes are being well spent…Oh, and yes, he had a lovely bunch of obligatory tatoos. Mind you so does David Beckham. But they look like they belong on the lovely David…
Have these people not tried to fast-forward to their 92yr old self, rocking in the corner of a care-home, and recoiled in horror at the faded green un-recognisable body art adorning their wrinkled, schrivelled up bodies, no? They need to! let’s leave our skin alone shall we? it didn’t do anything to you – oh, and I did count my blessings.