Monday, 2 September 2019

The constant struggle..... if I only I could market myself like the homeless stereotype the media wants....

As you'll have read in my previous post.  A lovely lady who brought me hope and happiness slipped through my fingers for seemingly no reason a few months ago. It hurt... a lot.

It's not an uncommon experience though being let down by those people closest to you. As I get older it's something that has happened more than it ever did when I was young. That's not an age thing but a period one.  Commuity and friendship used to be key to survival in our society. but we've stopped thinking of ourselves in those terms in the 21st Century, instead we've become isolated and money serving.

Being let down by someone you care for, that's the worst, but being let down by everybody makes the process of living nigh on impossible.

I am yet again, being wongly deprived funds from the DWP in respect to my DLA (Disability Living Allowace) & IB (Incapacity Benefit) which are paid due to my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.  This means I'm now utterly destitute.Being penniless in the UK, unblievable, is actually an illegal offence.

That is becasue we still have the Georgian (not Victorian law folks, it poredates even that) Vagrancy Act on our statute and the police still use it (Liberty are campaigning to get it repealed). If you cannot prove you have the means to feed yourself you can go to prison.  The irony of a state that doesn't want to give someone their legally entitled welfare of £200 per week but happy to pay a £1,000 in housing that same individual in prison, is not lost on me, especially, as our PM says aursterity has ended.

I personally wouldn't last a week if my freedoms were taken away from me, so it's not really an option for me, but I do see those choosing prison over survivnig on the streets as its a better alternative, as being reasoned and rational.

People often ask me, "how can this be happening?" it's a good question, but it isn't actually what they mean. They are not asking how can we live in a society that allows this to happen, or how are civil servants permitted to get away with this behavipur or why isn't our government doing anything to prevent these travesties?

No, they are asking me, how I've let this happen to me.

This question really pisses me off.

Not least, becasue I would have done a hundred things they wouldn't even have thought of doing to imrpove my siutation. Attempted a myriad of solutions from the blindingly obvious to the insanely obscure.

But the most galling is because they think, if their life is "normal" then clearly I must have done something to make mine "abnormal". They don't understand, as a society that we don't live in a bubble,  Our actions aren't necessarily our own as we live in a country with enforecable laws, that sometimes work against us.

For example I have in the past reached out to the Cinema & Television Benevolent Fund (CTBF now renamed The Film & Television Charity) when things had got like this in the past and had been greatly assisted, especially when it came to supporting my son after the DWP removed my mens to live the first few times.  But the CTBF hated the fact that I could maintain a social life in London and be homeless and peniless and therefore simply stopped beleiving me.  Thus my persistence not to be crushed by my situation, instead preferring to use my initiative, skill and knowledge to continue my lifestyle without money, becomes the very reason I wasn't getting support for money I simply couldn't survive without.

My mother always instilled in me the notion that people will help others who help themselves.  That's no longer a mantra that holds ture in today's society.

In the UK's current climate, you're either a waster or a cheat if you have the tumerity to claim, should you get sick or infirmed, the insurance you've probably paid into for years. British society doesn't see National Insurance as the same as any other type of insurance and therefore if you make claim on it in respect to Social Security payments then you're a failure, a loser or a bum.

Ironically though it would be the same as saying to someone who'd had an accident in their car that they shouldn't claim car insurance, because of all those who've paid their insurance and haven't had an accident. The system would obviously collapse, but it is of course exactly the same thinking.

Legally, I've beaten the DWP in appeals court over tweny times over the years. 

I've even attended the Royal Courts of Justice as a litigant in person (representing myself) when they refused to communicate with me by email against their own policy, government legislation and my Human Rights, which the judge in that case stated had been breached for nearly a decade (Paul Atherton V Secreatry of State for Work and Pensions).

How many people can say they argued against the State on their own in one of the highest courts in the land and changed case-law?  I suspect very few.

But still people ask "How haven't you sorted this yet?"

My current appeals process has taken since November 2018 and I've still yet to hear if I have a date for the hearing.  I'm lucky, having worked for the DHSS as was in the mid eighties, I understand the law in respect to benefits, so can represent myself.  Others aren't so lucky and they've had the removal of Legal Aid to add to their woes, so can't get pay for legal assistance, even if they found someone who'd take their case.

But how can I speed up the legal process, how do I fix that?

I'm trying to get an art project off the ground as you may have read elsewhere called Displaced (My speech on the project at the RSA can be found here).  The idea was simple, put 50 of my luxury objects, that had been trapped in my sotrage unit for the past ten years, in Museum Cases on the streets of London in the style of a treasure hunt. The prupose? To highlight the changing face of homelessness currently evolving in the United Kingdon and dispell many of the myths assocaited with it and in so doing bring about a change of tone in the media.

If I'd been attempting do this a decade ago I would have completed it by now. As it is, I've bee trying to get this off the ground for three years and am pretty much exaclty where I started.

I'd been working with the Museum of Homelessness but they got intimidated by the scale of the project even though for me it was primarily to raise funds for them and dropped out with really no explanation.

Access Storage who have been phenomenal in their assistance over the years, have had a change of store management and are now no longer being accomodating with my storage fees and they've also had a change of Marketing Manager so the promise of PR from them has suddenly dematerialised too.

The City of London's City Art Initiative (CAI) apparently loved the idea, but then made no assistance in making it happen, as fake block after fake block was put in my way. First it was an advertising problem, that miraculously vanished when I requested upon which legislation they were making this decision, then it was Highways problem until Highways said no problem and so it went.

I spoke at the Royal Society of Arts as a Fellow to garner support from the Fellowship, but none came forward. The RSA is supposed to be the heart of groundbreaking thinking in the UK but nobody out of the 40,000 fellowship actually came forward with assistance. NOBODY!

I reached out to my alma mater Cardiff Business School in the hope of getting support from the Alumni & provide work placements for students. Carbs is the only school that makes claim to being A Public Value Business School but their response reflected small minded thinking and a knee jerk reaction to something that should have prompted a discussion at the very least. They bother me every week, have written about me and I'm one of the few Alumni with a Wikipedia page.

I've spoken at the House of Commons about my plight to engender a clearly understanding of the problem when Bob Blackman was drafting his Homelessness Reduction Bill, but the key to my contirbution was how do you enforce legislation when Councils are refusing to abide by them was lost and remains to be the biggest problem today.

I've been invited in to City Hall to speak to the heads of No Second Night Out when I was stuck in their hub on Goldhawk road only to be ignored, because the people I was speaking to, although in charge, had no undestanding of the problem. Prefering a piece of reseach that was so flawed wouldn't have got through a first year business course

I've been written about as a Homeless case--study in a book. spoken at Tate Modern on DWP & The Digital Lie and given a lecture at the British Academy Representing Homelessness Conference but have achieved precisely nothing.

And I'm not asking for Charity.  I'm asking for something that I'm legally entitled too.  I'm asking for my insurance to pay out and to have the legal protections to allow me to live a decent life within the framework of legal Human Rights which of course ironically, is a law that the UK created (The European Convention on Human RIghts).

I don't want sympathy or other people's money.  I want my money, the money that I paid additonal voluntary contributions for into my National Insurance, when I was running my own business in my twenties.

Am I to blame for contracting Chronic Fatigue Syndrome at 20? Am I to blame for having a Credit agency make an error on my credifile and have no legal recourse to correct it (which is what prompted my homelessness in the first place over a decade ago)?

Is it my fault that Local Authroittes lied to me, got me to sign a contract with an agency that removed my right to social housing, not that that mattered because it would still take a ten year wait before I got one.

How about the wrongful impounding of the car that I was living in when the DVLA screwed up and the Metropolitan police took it away - my fault?

I think not.  But still, I don't want to complain or gripe I just want to change the situation for myself and others who find themsleves in this plight.

I've been interviewed by Buzzfeed (1 hour interview), the Mail on Sunday (3 hour interview followed by a 3 hour photo shoot), Channel 4 news (2 hour interview) and been offered to write a piece for the Huffington Post but all came to naught. Invariably not getting past the editor or making it past the last cut.

The feedback, if any comes at all, is invariably the same, I don't fit the sterotype. I'm trying to change the narrative but that's not what the news audience wants to hear.

To be homelesss in the media, you have to look and smell what they consider a homeless person should be. The arcehtypal Guardian image of man in doorway covered with newspapers.

No way should you find yourself at the Opera, vsiting a Gallery or dining, as the DWP put it, when they spotted a tweet on my feed when a friend had taken me out for a meal, at an upmarket restaurant (even more ironically we wouldn't have considered the establishment remotely so).

The sex sells angle wins too.  When I was being asked to discuss things in respect to Dr. Frances Ryan's book, it was the female who had to turn to sexwork to survive that seemed to garner most interest, in that uncomfortable juxtaposition between wanting to see the book publicised but not wishing the exploitaiton of someone who'd made a diffiuclt choice in hard-times.

In the 21st Century you'd think our media would be far better than this. Our intelligence improving not, as Mike Judge (he of Beavis & Butthead Fame & King of The Hill) in his brilliantly prophetic, live action movie Idiocracy, predicted all but disappeared.

So I find myself in no-mans land (something I found myself with my skin colour when I was growing up in the Welsh Valleys - not Black nor White but mistrusted by both) wanting a platform to make change, but with a media utterly insistent on not sharing my voice.

It was telling when I went to the StopTheCoup demonstration, that as someone who had voted to leave the European Union, that I knew so much more about the EU than those who were campaigning to stay in it.

It's the media that has created this divide between Remainers & Leavers, because the media are not reporting the facts.  They are no longer a service (well that's been true for a while) that delivers news, but a content entertainment service.

As a film-maker I'm all too aware of this.

From Citizen Kanes "What will the people think?... "they'll think what I tell them to think", to Networks "I'm not going to take this anymore" to Broadcast News "fake tear reporting" we've commercialised our news.

The birth of the "clash" interview in the documentary amd it all to obvious that divisive was the only way to entertain.

So, if you're ever wondering what I've done to try and improve my lot, I've taken the state to court, spoken at the House of Commons, appeared in a best-selling book on austerity, created an art project to highlight my plight, put my life bare on the internet for anyone to see and undertaken a myriad of press interviews to change public opinion as well as supporting others through court battles and making films to highlight social injustice.

All of this of course whilst in the main, living on £70 per week social security benefits and sleeping at night on plastic chairs at Heathrow Aiport Terminal Five, now ask yourself, what would you have done in the same circumstances to improve your lot?

And then please, let's never hear the question "what have you done to sort this out? again".

Saturday, 1 June 2019

Joyce Ademasa - Make Up Artist (MUA) broke my heart...

It's hard to believe that someone I've been so committed too with so much for so long would be so cruel.

But sadly it's the nature of relationships, even when seemingly they end ammicably.

I met Joyce through a mutual friend whom she was supporting him as a Make-Up artist in his show last December.

I pursued her for a date, which took over a month to secure and upon doing so, let her enter my world, of eating at chef's tables, trips to Amsterdam for Valentines, invitations to the Highlands at a stately home,  the most romantic dates in London, my birthday adventures and a whole plethora of experiences that money simply couldn't buy.

Which is fortunate, as, as you know, money is not my forte.

Her looks belay her 53 years on the planet but sadly so does her maturity too.

We parted company just over nine days ago.  She did this at a stage in my life where I'd reached out to her for help. She knew I was struggling to the point of being almost suicidal, her response was one of repulsion, that I couldn't handle the stresses of having no money, struggling with my ME/CFS, being Homeless, having my project Displaced pushed back, not hearing from my 19 year old son and our own crumbling relationship.

She was seemingly more concerned about how things looked to others than what it meant to each of us.

This whole situation was huge for me, as when we started seeing each other she was keen to know if this was a long-term thing leading to marriage.  I'd spent 30 years avoiding such relationships and the notion of monagomy was always such a problem for me. (Read my interview in Advantages of Age here for the full picture but I genuinely thought we could see our final years out together and fully committed to working towards a married relationship.

My homelessness became an issue for her. Even though she had her own home, and suffered the experience of not having somewhere to live herself, unbelievably she didn't once offer a night indoors.

We shared personal time in friends holiday homes or hotels.

So in our four months of dating, her getting me to say I loved her, I had never once visited her home.

I've never met anyone ele who has had experience of Homelessness not to relate to the condition.  It could be because it was so far in her past that she forgot how important it was for the odd night inside to survive, but she said even after four months, knowing everything about me and saying she wanted me to conisder marrying her, she didn't feel comfortable inviting me home.

Our relationship ended without even a break-up kiss, let alone break-up sex.  The problem seemingly bolied down to a few moments of miscommunication. She declined to spare five minutes to book a hotel room, which resulted in me not getting inside, that then turned into days of her silence.  A poem that refelcted my feelings in an instance that she took to relflect our relationship as a whole

She was averse to publishing anything online about our relationship, even though she's happy to share her personal feelings, visits with family or going out.  Without this blog, there would in fact be no record of our time togehter whatsoever online.

It's horrific for me, because she lured me into a world where I actually believed in marraige and a life-time relationship was possible.  Something anybody who knows you will tell you is something I've managed to keep at bay for the past twenty years.

Our last meeting in the Reunion Bar at Victoria Station, was a result of her ignoring all attempts from me to communicate. Requests to answers of why we'd split-up were met with silence, whether she wanted to hear from me again. She'd asked that I fight for our relationship, something I'd lattelry agreed to do (against it must be said, my better judgement).  The thing abut our relationship was that we were always looking for it to be balanced.  Two people working to the betterment of each other, not one looking after the other.

It was an amazing relationship built on honesty and communication.  Until the proverbial hit the fan when it was apparent that what Joyce was actually wanting was exactly the opposite of what she said she wanted.  Something very strange happened bewteen seeing each other, that caused her to create amazing pain and discomfort for me.

Open honesty was replaced with secrecy. care and emotion wsa replaced with her being obtuse and antagonistic.

I have no idea if this break-up is causing her any discomfort whatsoever.  She closed me out.

My life has been placed in complete meltdown and all because we couldn't sustain our communications, which was never explained.

It was the worst thing I've endured.  I invested everything into this relationship, money, time, emotion and commitment, in a way I've never done before. The fact she was unable to express her feelings makes the situation even worse, because she felt cold, I felt duped and cheated.

I'm back at Heathrow and haven't slept in 24 hours  Her insistence on ignoring communications without explanantion was the most evil thing anyone has ever done to me. Modern ghosting. The fact that we got to sit down, demonstrated that she was looking for the negative in everything. Made more annoying about the suprfiiciality of the guise of her forever being positive.

The entire situation could have been resolved if she'd done a few little things and hadn't misinterpreted my actions.  It was thrown in with some bad timing and bad luck (messages got lost and voicemails not heard), but fundamentally, it was one five minute hotel transaction that derailed us - and that's ridiculous.

I'm gutted and dissapointed and would love to get another bite of the cherry to putting things right - but without communication nothing can be done.

She needs to me to "Man-Up" as she put it, but ironically, it's her insistence to not support at present that's created my biggest obstacle to do that.

Whislt this may sound angry and bitter, it isn't.  I'm disappointed and lost and unsure what to do next.

Next move is mine now I guess.... I'm hoping the book Crippled (written by the Guardian Journalist Dr. Francis Ryan and in which I am a case-study which comes out next week, will open the door to me getting some accomodation. And maybe then we can look at rebuilding....

But if she'd simply been honest about what she wanted and how to accomplish it, I thnk we could be both together and extremely happy.

Saturday, 4 May 2019

Looking for purpose....

It's 9 a.m. 

I am sitting in Caffe Nero in the arrivals lounge of Heathrow Airport Terminal 5, typing this blog on a beer encrusted keyboard having had just 3 hours of sleep.

This is now becoming common place and the continual circle of get beaten down, struggle back, be given hope and then crushed to nothing again, is coming to an end.

If we are to believe it, Einstien is alleged to have said, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result".

Well that's been my life for the last ten years and maybe it's time to acknwoledge life has won.

This year was supposed to be the year, that I conquered, not that I started the cycle all over again. 

Displaced had been an idea that I'd been trying to get off the ground in truth for seven years.  It's inception was based on the fact that I've paid £20,000 to keep my possessions in storage for the last ten years and rather than thinking of that in terms of money, I saw it as a way of telling my story in perpetuity. They'd gone into storage for what I'd thought would be a maximum of three months, when I first became homeless.  But as time went on, the DWP failures compounded, Local authorities lied and cheated, homeless charities failed, the police confiscated my car etc. it became apparent it would go on forever.

The initial idea was that I would donate the possessions to a Museum, this didn't work out as planned as the Geffrey Museum were too full to take anymore, the V&A liked the evolution of my jeans from Levi's to Edwin to Brioni, but it never got off the ground and so many institutions liked the idea, were either too slow in making decisons or simply had no more space to take anything but my reaching out did finally lead to my video diary being taken into the Museum of London's permanent collection.

But the discovery of the Museum of Failure through Social Media, prompted that idea to morph into a London Citywide Street art installation. MoF never came to London as envisaged but then like a miracle Museum of Homelessness came across my bow.

And as of last year the project actually came into sight and seemed to becoming together at a rate of knots. 

I discover that the founder of the MoH Jess Tuttle and I had lived in the same homeless community which her mother ran, when I was 17 she was 6, one of the participants on the course had assisted in trying help save the Kensington Odeon when we tried to break-in, a friend's boyfriend, introduced me to Museum Exhibition consultant Bob Deakin, who became the lynchpin for the event.  I'd met sponsorship consultant Tom Meggle at a French Institute screening, Sam Bompass had put me in touch with his Lighting Designer, Helen Marriage had introduced me to her Production Manager, Access Storage's PR team were keen to assist with promotion.

As you know, I suffer with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.  Laughingly the medical advice is always to avoid stress. Try avoiding stress, when you don't get paid the money you're entitled too from the state, because of some civil servants whim, even when the courts are on your side every single time, even in the highest in the land (see prevoius blog)

So now I have decaying teeth, because my borther who has been my dentist for thirty years has retired and I can't afford the treatment (especially because until my circumstances change, there seems little point, becasue I can't look after them properly in my current situation).

My doctors at Riverside Medical Centre all left, first the brillaint and kind Dr. Murray Ellender, who was the most supportive and understanding of Doctors I've ever had, ended up running the entire group of practices and doing some amazing work for patients at a management level especially in respect to technology.  Then Dr. Dyer-Smith who remained my doctor for 5 years and again who eventually fell foul of the draw of a management position was replaced with 

I started this blog by saying I was typing on a beer encrusted keyboard. Why?  Well this is the continual problem.  You are homeless, so you don't get much sleep, therefore you're tired, therefore you lose concentration and make mistakes.  In this instance it involved me moving a pint and not placing it properly splashing beer all over my keyboard.

Previously it had been lost devices, broken power cables, dropped tablets in St. Katharine's Docks. Now it's even the simple ability to write.

You see surviving daily in this state would be a masive impact on my health if I was heathy, but trying to do it when I'm suffering with ME/CFS is nigh on impossible, throw in the fact that I'm then trying to achieve a massive citywide art project then, would seem insane.

But it wasn't, it just required a little help. and as I said for a week or two it all seemed to be coming into place, but then just as quickly it vanished.

Growing up I wa taught by my parents that people help those who help themselves. That's no longer true.  The DWP have used my accomplishmnets as a stick to prevent me from getting benefits, people only offer to help, if they see a way of making money for themselves and the fun of doing something just for the sake of doing somethnig just simply doesn't exsit in public consciousness anymore.

The most crushing of all these has been the Museum of Homelessness. Their catalyst programme had been a wondrful experience and the bonds that I made there empowering, but rather than being the assisting platform I had hoped, it turned into the same bureaucratic nightmare of all these institutions.

The things that they were supposed to bring to the table like contacts and a mentor, just didn't materialise. I secured my own Mentor in the amazing Helen Marriage (and her efficiency just further highlighted how easy this whole thing could have been if everyone took her approach, email's answered within 24 hours with a resolution, always looking for ways to say yes, never no and always there for me). 

So with this gone, I've really given up on life.  Everytime I think of ending my life, I think of my son Charles, but even here I feel like a complete failure. Like your average 19 year old, he doesn't stay in touch.  I wonder what impact my departure would have on him.  I often wonder what my homeless situaiton has on him.  Since he was 9 years old I haven't had a house. 

Thankfully, friends, hotel owners and other location site owners have all facilitated in me housing him on visits to London and giving him the most amazing times when he came to visit me in London but things are now on their last ebb.

I've been typing this for the past two hours.... fatigue is creeping in,,,, brain fog has probably mean I've missed things as I can now no longer look back on this to check....  Suicide beckons once again.

I'm aamzed I've not had a stroke or a heart attack, my diet is abysmal £3 meal deals do not constitue a balanced food source, exercise is non-existant, I'm sedantry for 14 - 18 hours at a time, with the excpetion of two to three visits to the toilet I can sometimes, endure an entire day without moving from a single position.  DVT something my biolgical mother suffered with must be just waiting to kick down the door.  Alcohol consumptoin has gone back to Whisky for breakfast.

Do I continue to fight and thus kick-start the whole cycle all over again and as Einstein stated demonstrate my insanity because I expect a different outcome (a stark contrast to the Try, Try and Try again mantra, because everything I do is with a different appraoch) or do I quit, end my life, just simply by letting go of the fight and giving up....

I'm leaving Heathrow to go and do something cultural and free... It's the reason I fight to stay in London, endure impossible odds and want to enshrine myself in it's history... London has always been kind to me, sadly the people who now inhabit are not... and maybe it is indeed to take my final bow... time will tell.


Monday, 29 April 2019

Chip... Chip....Chip....

As ever, I'm not finding the time to write my Blogs.

This year has been a whirlwind of eroding failure indespersed with little wnis.  And it's the little wins that are the worst for me these days.

You see the wins give hope and energise me to keep fighting and actually what's needed now, is for me to simply quit.  To lie down somewhere and simply give-up. It's the only rational and sane approach to the situation.

For ten years, I've been fighting.

I've been fighting the DWP, on an almost monthly basis since 2009, my money is removed, I fight and a year later having had no funds, the money is back-dated and then the fight begins all over again with the DWP stopping my funding for the exact same reason.

In February of this year, I found myself, standing in the Royal Courts of Justice, representing myself against a team of lawyers for the The Secretary of State for work and pensions.

As ever, I'd been let down by the people who were being paid to support me.  It's hard to ensvision a worse scenario, where I'm struggling to find money to eat, worrying about where I'm going to sleep each night, trying to fend off my Chronic Fatugue Syndrome, so when someone offers to suppot to take a little of pressure off my life, I grab it with both hands.

The Public Law Project, have done me an appalling disservice. Not only did they take my case with full knowledge. I warned them that the DWP would use my Social Media but (I'm still trying to write this - but my sight is diminishing due to my ME/CFS and brainfog....)

Paul Atherton V Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

So right now, I'm fighting the following battles:

1. The Metropolitan Police to pursue the £25,000 stolen from mt Son's Trust Fund by one of the Trustees, a case that has been ongoing for 2 years.  The Crown Prosecution Service has required twelve months just to make a decision if they will prosecute even though they have all the indisputable evidence to do so. Still ongoing.

2.  The DWP - Email.  Even thuogh the Royal Courts of Justice agreed that the DWP had breached my Human Rigths by refusing

3.  The DWP - Appeals for Incapacity Benefit & Disability Living Alloawnce

Bob Deakin - let me down
Tom Meggle - let me down
CDI Complaint - CDI found themselve in
Jonathan - no lonfer able to support
Magnetta Brightly - unable to support in her role as an intern (totally essential to me)
Museum of Homelessness - not delivered on a sinle objective they offered to support with.
Campaign Magazine
CIty of London - Holding things up

5.  The Public Law Project - Taking the lawyers through the complaint service and putting together a case againts them for professional negligence.

6.  The RSA

7.  CFS

8.  Teeth

9.   General Health

10.  Diet

Friday, 28 December 2018

Reflecting on 2018....

It's New Years Eve 2018 and I've been writing this post for the past week, cross referencing diary entries, social media and photographs.

As a regular reader you'll know I always attempt to achieve one major thing every month as the year progresses.

Last year, 2017, included my first professional acting role in the Camden Fringe, singing at the Royal Albert Hall Proms as part of the Choir With No Name, winning the Game of Thrones Marathon in the Prince Charles Cinema,  Leicester Square, watching Australian Pop Idol, Natalie Gauci, signing a song I wrote at TedX London.

But the end of the year resulted in my having one of the worst ME/CFS Crashes in quite a while. 
Thankfully one of my amazing cast members in the play (who barely knew me) took me in for three months from December to March .

SO this year started on it's knees.

But going back through my Diary, whilst I didn't have a ton of accomplishments it was definitely a year that was meant to lead somewhere.

January 2018

My year began being entirely bed-bound and literally on my knees. Fortuitously Mim Elkan who I'd preformed with in the Camden Fringe and befriended gave me the most generous gift by looking after me, having taken me in on 1st December 2017.

Everyday was a massive struggle and I didn't want to continue living,

On one of my first attempts of leaving bed later in the month, I managed to get out for my first ever visit to the Phoenix Cinema (so pleased Londoner's managed to save that amazing place from being homogonised into a chain) to watch Meryl Streep & Tom Hanks in the rather excellent The Postman.

Even though could barely speak most of the time, Solicitor Sara Lomri from the Public Law Project came out to the flat to visit me in bed so I could continue my Judicial Review against the DWP in respect to their failure to communicate to disabled claimants by email when requested.

Managed to see the fabulous Bryan Cranston in the National Theatre's production of Network.  Never have I felt more akin to a character other than in Kafka's, The Trial.

February 2018

Win yet another appeal against the DWP to reinstate my Disability payments, made in relation to my ME/CFS and the reason I was trapped in bed.

Ruby Tandoh gifted me her book Eat Up by post, after I commented on her Twitter post about it's publication. This created the first sparks of hope that Human kindness in the UK could be rekindled and granted me with Mim's kindness the power to continue.

My first proper visit out of the house is thanks to friend & performance artist Amy Elizabeth-Kingsmill and an invitation to the LGBQT party at the Wallace Collection. Find myself in an intimate audience of around thirty watching Marc Almond (he of Soft Cell fame) perform his greatest hits acoustically in one of the sumptuous rooms.

Thanks to friend & BUFF Founder Emmanuel get to see the first press screening of Black Panther a day before the UK premiere in my role as a film critic for Colourful Radio's Meet The Critics.

Thanks to friend Yasmin Omotosho I had my first lunch in the Inns of Court (she's now a qualified barrister) even though I've visited lots of times for Carole Stone's Christmas Party this was the first time I'd ever eaten in the venue Shakespeare first performed Twelfth Night.

My first play in the newly opened Bridge Theatre by Tower Bridge, was the fabulous Julius Caesar. Ill health prevented me from being involved but pleased to have caught the second play there.

Introduce my MP Mark Field into the fight against the DWP (turns out to be totally useless).

Finally (after nearly a year) persuade Metropolitan Police to investigate the theft of my son's Trust Fund by one of the Trustees,

March 2018

Find myself having drinks with Alan Yentob following a screening of Being Blacker at the BFI.

My first (and only, I'm old school and prefer to meet people in real life) internet date perpetrated through Bumble.

Fiftieth Birthday Party - still struggling to recover from ME/CFS so can barely write an email in between excursions but manage to organise a party at one of my and my son's favourite restaurants Inamo on Wardour Street. 

End up partying with Stephen Frears, Stormzy & Nick Nolte after a Sochi Film Festival event.  Ironically Frears was there too take an award. Stormzy just happened to have booked a room next door and Nick Notle was staying in the Soho Hotel where the event was being held and just invited himself.

Feeling recovered enough to return to living to the street (sadly lost contact with Mim after my departure but will be eternally grateful to her for the rest of my life for incredible generosity allowing to me to stay with her and thus survive).

Testing film idea for "How to be a proper Londoner?"  at the Widow's Son Easter ritual of putting a bun in the net.

Stay at former Daily Mail editor's Paul Dacre's Highland retreat again (thanks to friend's who rent it every year for the Easter Break) but too ill to enjoy it and spend most of time in bed there.

April 2018

Reconnect with a dear Syrian friend Areej Zayat who is over in the UK presenting the BBC Arabic Film Festival and working with another Syrian friend based in London Reem Khabazy.

Interviewed and Photographed by Buzzfeed on my views on the influence of the black vote in the UK with the upcoming elections. Suggested they speak to my nemesis from OBV which they did, who ironically did make the cut in the article whilst I didn't.

Celebrated the 30th Anniversary of the Phoenix Artist's Club with their founders a favourite institution for actors and artists in the West End. Reconnected with friend Hattie Hayridge (played Holly in Red Dwarf).

May 2018
An invitation from Alex Werner (Head of the New Museum of London) to the opening of London Nights in the Museum of London allows me to view Amy Elizabeth-Kingsmill (friend & performance) photographs as she has one of herself in the exhibition.

Began living in the back-seat of a friend's Mercedes Car in Richmond.

Celebrating the 200th Anniversary of the Old Vic with a celebratory performance, birthday cake, Pies & mash and loads of wine.  Took a punt and just turned up. First in return queue and managed to get a £120.00 for £35 (which wouldn't have covered the cost of the wine I drank).

Campaigning with Millions Missing, set up by Jennifer Brea of film Unrest fame, a worldwide organisation of ME/CFS sufferers like myself., protesting to raise awareness of the issues of not being properly recognised or researched.  Interviewed for another documentary on the subject. Talked to ITN.

Celebrating the Royal Academy's 250th Anniversary in the new wing.

Celebrating London History Day with my first ever visit to Royal Astronomical Society

June 2018
Meeting with Photographer Matt Crossick (we met at the Widow's Son) sharing ideas around London Events. He doing it Photographically me doing it filmicly.

Have the Louis Vuitton Bag and Toiletry bag that have been with me for twenty years (with all my clothes in) stolen off me whilst asleep on a bus as I was completely exhausted and disorientated from my ME/CFS and sleeping on Public Transport having lost the key for my friends car,.

Become embroiled with the Australian Actor Geoffrey Rush's #MeToo debacle when I spot him in the newly opened Serpentine Gallery and take a photo and Tweet. His opposition lawyers get in touch asking me for a statement, as it would appear nobody knew he'd left Australia.

The fantastic Down and Out Live in the Stone Nest (Charing Cross Road) walked to sit under the balcony. So didn't realise people like Jack Monroe, Simon Callow etc. who were doing readings, were actually doing it live above me. Involved with the Q&A met Guardian Journalist Patrick

Slept on a Hyde Park Bench for the first time in my life.  This was the first time I'd slept under the stars in London.

Pitched my biography to queen of Networking & friend to Carole Stone, she sent it onto a publisher friend.

Jordan B Peterson publishers gift me his book 12 Rules for Life having spotted that I'd taken pictures of all 12 adverts on the underground.

Whitechapel Gallery - Fusions of  as I'd volunteered to be a member of the ArtNight team.

Offered to be in documentary about one of my favourite shops in London, Sh! Women's Erotic Emporium and met directors.

Visit to see my son in Bristol for the first time since he's moved there.

July 2018

Host at Art Night outside the Royal Festival Hall lovely group of students from Goldsmith, UCL and Kings with me. Brilliant London night of volunteering and helping others for no money, with free art all up the Southbank,

Attend Paul Simon's final concert in Britain in Hyde Park as a VIP. Bob Geldoff and his daughter is there too.

Lived on Narrow Boat on Regents Canal for 2 weeks thanks to friend Romany Blythe needing a boat sitter.

Help guardian journalist Dr. Frances Ryan with the book she's writing on the failings of the Welfare state in the UK by contributing my own story.

Attend the Magic Circle for the first time in my life and discover former boss, dear friend and Magic Circle Member Nick Fitzherbert had died.

Reconnect with the great Sam Bompass (we met at Square Meal Event Live) at his newly opened Museum of Ice Cream.

August 2018
Accepted onto the Museum of Homelessness Catalyst programme. An idea to encourage people who are either homeless or were homeless to come up with campaigning projects that the course would

See of Emmerson, Lake & Palmer in (probably a last performance but not advertised as such) perform in Under The Bridge venue in

Reconnect with Rachel Fanshawe who I met in Warsaw in 2011 as part of a Film Project capturing the Human Rights Film Festival there. She became my presenter. Moved to Australia and this is one of the first time she's returned to London.

Celebrating the 250th Anniversary of Circus near the spot where it all started on the Southbank which was also friend Savina Sedghi 30th Birthday who came to celebrate with me.

Meet the amazingly creative & hopeful team the Digital Creative who are displaying at the BFI.

Collapse on pavement due to my ME/CFS nearby and stay there sleeping on the pavement until dawn. Again, another lifetime first.

Celebrate Smithfield Market 150th Anniversary with Sam Bompass's Cake

Reconnect with a friend from Nantes in France, at St. Pancras Station's Champagne Bar who I'd performed with in the Notting Hill Carnival with Nostalgia the oldest steel drum band in Britain. 

September 2018

Singer at the Barbican

Performance Artist and friend Amy Elizabeth Kingsmill returns to Soho after a devastating event that took place to her there a year earlier. It was a fabulous moment.

Museum of Homelessness Catalyst Programme begins, every Thursday & Friday for the whole of the month, get to meet heroes artist David Tovey, Journalist Steve Topple who I'd become friends with online and who ironically had connected with another friend Anne Sebba (and my first ever book launch) and came to discus

Rediscover Coffee, Cake and Kink under it's new branding and location Coffee, Cake and Kisses.

Streetsfest - Streets Festival's first homeless festival in Finsbury Park - I go to get my teeth seen too (there'e a dentist on site - unfortunately they don't have the facilities to treat - referred but as is most homeless people's experience nothing happens - see December).

Attend Creative Europe Connect in Barbican.  Amazing positive experience around Brexit.  Everyone there, artists, film-makers, theatre, all say the same thing. We're all working together better, we're looking outwards not inwards (productions in India, China, Asia etc.), DCMS is going to ensure any finance offered by the EU will be matched

Friend Mar Dixon's fabulous Drinks Thing at Twitter HQ in London.  Learn they've only just made money for the first time this year and that they are no longer a Social Media channel but a News Delivery one.

Reconnect with the one person in my life who has always kept my faith in Human Nature. Ex-Girlfriend Naomi Kenton who is retiring from her Nursing Career and in London to celebrate as she resides in Cardiff and continues to live in the house we bought together that I signed over to her when I left. The most generous and caring human being I've ever met in my life.

My friend Logan Sparks opens his Feature Film in London with a Curzon Cinema Q&A the perfect swanswong for his friend Harry Dean Stanton in a film that explores the end of life, "Lucky"

Meet the Menswear buyer of Selfridges at the Screening of at Cine Lumiere

Discover the Espon Pop-up and meet a VR specialist at the table (ionic as applied for Google 360 VR programme earlier in the year that I failed to be selected for)

Attend the fabulous German Film Festival in the Regent Street Cinema with friend & journalist Tim Baros.

Open night of Skethcing at Wilton's Music Hall meet James Graham in person for the first time.

Become part of the advisory group for developing the new Museum of London. Discovered the room was full of real Londoners and meet the female Chief Executive of City Read London (now friend) Andy Ryan.

October 2018

Become a mystery shopper for Five Star Hotels and Michellin Starred Restaurants.

Meeting UAL Creative Digital

A personal VIP Guided tour of the new galleries in the Greenwich National Maritime Museum y friend Sacha Coward.

Met Andy at EON Recharge Retreat.

Meet the makers of The Hate U Give writer and at Rich Mix as part of S.O.U.L London Film Festival Event.

Connect with Founder of Sh! meet Suzanne Noble friend who is a Cinema Case builder and designer.

Invited by Adria Wu to her fabulous Maple outlet in Bloomsbury. To discuss future of healthy food.

Attend the brilliant Cross Bones Graveyard Halloween event and interviewed by ITN about the experience.

November 2018

Collaborate with LovePopUps and attend Archery Fit for a fabulous Archery Lesson (hadn't done Archery since being a Scout 30+ years ago).

Working with campaigning artist David Tovey on his personal journey into homelessness performance Man On Bench Fairytale in Manchester.

Began writing my play with the encouragement of playwright James Graham (and friends actress Karina Cornell & theatre producer Savina Sedghi) Fifty Years of Trying...

Enio Morricone's last ever Concert in the O2 Greenwich, as a ninety year old, it was amazing to watch. One of my favourite composers with Michael Nyman (whom I had the chance of working with earlier in the year when he agreed to be in the 360VR film we were pitching to YouTube but who turned us down. Morricone being introduced to me when I was about eight through The Good, The Bad & The Ugly and I owned the sountrack to the Mission being moved by that in ways I didn't think possible when I was 19.

December 2018

Interviewed as a Trustee for Patchwork Foundation an organisation that assists young people from underpriviliged & minority backgrounds into politics.

Filmed as a subject for the Crowdfunding Video for Sh! Women's Erotic Emporium to assist with promoting their sex educational programme for women throughout the UK.

Rekindle my Insanely Late Summer Party.

Having spent last December in bed so pleased to rekindle most of my London Christmas Traditions. Harvey Nichols Christmas Eve, Walking in a Royal Park on Boxing Day (mine was 29th December 2019 as in St, Albans

The best event of the year (other than seeing my son), am appointed a Fellow of the RSA. So end the year being able to call myself  Paul Atherton FRSA.

Happy New Year for 2019.

Jordan B Peterson - Free Book
Pitch Sketching (what month did I actually Pitch).
Geoffrey Rush in Serpentine Gallery - MeToo
Frances Ryan - Assisting with her book about disability and the welfare system. 

Monday, 5 November 2018

Somethings never change....

It's hard to believe it's November 2018 and I'm still running around in the same circles.

In the past 5 days, I have, yet again, been let down by legal counsel. 

Sara Lomri of the Public Law Project was supposed to be supporting me in a battle against the DWP (Department of Work and Pensions) in a Judicial Review in respect to getting the department to comply with their own legal requirements of corresponding to me via an effective email channel due to my disability of ME/CFS (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) which they'd point blank refused to do.

To a lay person this was a slam dunk case, but for some reason whenever it gets into the hands of poor lawyers, something straight forward becomes inordinately complicated and last week, she with my(?) barrister had a negotiation, that resulted in me losing everything, seemingly even my trial date.

It's hard to explain to sound thinking people the ludicrous nature of this current predicament, not least because, of every single person I've discussed it with (and that amounts to well over a hundred) they all do that annoying thing of applying logic to the situation and agreeing with me.

But here is the best explanation I've been able to give anyone below.  The nature of my current health, means I'm being looked after by friends in St. Albans, unable to write or concentrate

One of my difficulties in getting someone else to look at the case has been trying to be succinct in what this case has been about, having been dragged around the houses for 2 years.

Put simply, it was that the DWP emphatically said they wouldn't communicate with me by email even though they had overwhelming evidence of both my disability and my homeless circumstances. Much coverage of this issue had been made in the press about other disabled people suffering the same indignities of not being allowed email communications. I therefore contacted John Pring, editor of the Disability News Service, following on from one of his articles on the subject, to see if some form of class action would be raised as I would like to give evidence as part of it. He transferred me on to an organisation handling the case through Svetlana at Inclusion London and they finally passed me on to the Public Law Project (PLP), where I became a lone-case, albeit with first EU funding then subsequently Legal Aid.

PLP were however able to discover that this DWP email behaviour was systemic and widespread, with only 32 people, myself allegedly now included, in the entire of the United Kingdom granted permission to correspond with the department by electronic email communications as an Alternative Format on the grounds of disability.

As everyone knows, I worked for what was then the DHSS in the 1980's and what later became the DWP and have an IT Background having worked on the some of the most influential technological advancement launches in history, including the world's first online banking (Pegasus Software/Barclays Bank) and the world's first internet streaming video (Iterated System), so I come at this with a much wider understanding than most.

I had had for years though, been communicating directly with named contacts in the DWP for both Disability Living Allowance & Incapacity Benefit via email immensely satisfactorily, with responses generally coming within hours at most a day, problems resolved in an instant and effectively and found genuine compassion.  This of course became a problem when those benefits were phased out and replaced by ESA & PIP which are altogether different propositions that I've yet to transfer too but that are run entirely online and is of course, where these problems all stemmed.

This previous email behaviour by the DWP is in utter stark contrast with the current alleged email communications I am having, where responses are generally taking a month and then usually simply to obfuscate.

My benefits have repeatedly been incorrectly stopped.  I am yet again having to take the DWP to appeal court to get my DLA (and conceivably my Incapacity Benefit, as nobody has a clue as to what is happening with that benefit, as the dedicated Alternative Format Team in the the DWP only address communications with my DLA for some inexplicable reason) for failing to get to a medical because of the very condition they are attempting to assess. This will be the 5th time in 5 years that I've proved the DWP to be wrong yet each time going a year or more without any funds from them at all.

The DWP have been proven in lies time and time again but for some reason, that doesn't come into this

Nor indeed the impact of not being able to communicate with the department which they've used to their advantage to consistently stop benefits.

So as it stands, as I understand it, the DWP have just used court proceedings as a way of torturing me for 2 years, whilst lawyers on both sides have profited.

There were only two things I wanted out of proceedings, the first, that the DWP would never, ever be able to do this to anyone else again, and therefore garner a change of law to ensure that, or, failing that, a substantive cash payment that would mean I would never have to have any dealings with the DWP ever again.

I can live on £15,000 per year (I currently survive on £5,000 a year without housing), I'll probably not make it to my 60th Birthday (homeless people tend to live to around 48 years old, so I'm already beating the odds by 2 years; as everyone knows 6 homeless people have already died due to the changes in temperature in the past 2 weeks), but let's say I make it to 70, so to be safe, a settlement figure of around £300,000 (20 years x £15,000) would be the only acceptable amount.  I've been informed that because lawyers have not been very good in these proceedings in the past and judges are biased towards the state, this would be an impossibility.   

So as things stand, I've been starved, forced to live on the street, bullied, vilified belittled, had my family dispossessed, unable to help my son with his suicidal tendencies or mental health because of the DWP and even though there's overwhelming evidence that they have done all this through deception, lying and obfuscation they are going to get away scot free.

Having not instigated a proper email system to communicate with claimants out of their impoverished £3/4 Billion annual budget for DWP Digital, having no law changed to protect claimants from this abuse happening in the future or compensated realistically for the damage and hardships they've cause to me mentally, physically, emotionally and to my family.

So my position stands as it did from the beginning as you go into talks with them. If they are only dealing with 32 claimants, having a single individual staff member to be the conduit is entirely cost effective and means that claimants are not being made to jump though hoops. The format letters can be passed to that individual directly and the likelihood of failure or error diminished because the person will know all the people he/she is dealing with and their circumstances  (This is of course exactly as it was when I worked at the DHSS in Cardiff being responsible for the individuals in my section of surnames S-Z) a personal i.e. name of individual email is passed out to the claimants and that person and that person alone (with the exception of a number 2 to cover sickness and holidays) would be responsible for all aspects of the 32 individuals claims and responses could be then be granted in under 48 hours.  Even if everyone wrote at the same time, that's still only 32 emails to respond too (I get through that many in 2 hours) the number will not increase, because all other benefits are online, so it will simply be a decreasing responsibility until all claimants transferring have been dealt with. Let's say of £30,000 a computer and desk space £5,000 so in real terms the cost would be no more than £50,000 per year, but of course they could simply allocate a current staff member and equipment and they'd be no intrinsic rise in costs whatsoever. This needs to be agreed as law.

Failing that, a minimum of a £350,000 cash settlement from the DWP (they could ignore the over-payment of £23,000 or whatever it was) and I'll happily sign whatever document they'd like resolving them of any future obligations towards me until my death. As I'm entitled to Housing Benefit of a maximum of £250 per week, I've already saved them £117,000 in housing benefit with being homeless, add that with another 20 years £260,000 and the benefits due PIP £400 & ESA £400 per month - £192,000 (all approximate figures of course as they don't take in account any increases or inflation as I'm simply working on today's figures) means the offer will save the state just under a £1/4 Million pound over my lifetime, which I think is an inordinately reasonable offer considering their appalling behaviour and deception towards me.

That's it, there are my instructions and not up for debate.  Good luck.

Saturday, 2 June 2018

It was only a matter of time....

I haven't slept properly in days.

I'm exhausted, disorientated, depressed to high heaven and at the end of my tether.

After spending a few days in St. Alban's at a friends at the Bank Holiday I'd got accustomed to being in doors for while.

But when I was about to return a catalogue of events conspired for me to lose my Louis Vuitton Bag (including all it's content and Louis Vuitton toiletry bag).

It began when I spilt some Chinese food I'd bought at St. Alban's Street Market which I was eating outside in the grounds of the Cathedral. This meant I had to wash my jeans and ended wearing a pair of blue trousers instead.

I was residing in a friends car and she'd supplied me with a key fob (which unfortunately as the cars battery had run flat didn't work) and a manual emergency key. This key was not normal as it was incredibly thin, didn't have a plastic head and not attached to any key ring.  The change of clothes meant that unlike when it was in my jeans pocket it had no way of falling out but in my trousers it did... and it did!

Upon returning to London I had stayed with a friend for the evening (from where in the rush to leave in the morning I believe the key fell out) but the next day I discovered the key gone and I was unable to get back in the car. (Had I gone straight to the car rather than heading to his house the night before - I don't believe I would have lost it, as I would have changed back into my jeans).

This meant I was wondering around with my bag wherever I went since last Tuesday.  I'd been sleeping on buses.  And last night I'd attended S.O.U.L at the BFI. I'd had a few drinks and having barely slept all week was totally exhausted.

Ironically only the day before I asked another friend if I could leave my bag at his place but unfortunately his positive response some hours later was too late for me.  So I still had it on me when it disappeared last night.

I'm currently still fighting with the DWP and this is a direct consequence of their failures to pay what is rightfully mine.

Right now, I don't feel like continuing with life.