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Tits Up

By Ashleylister @ashleylister
There's a discrepancy between what I write about in my poetry and what I write about to friends and family, via social media, email etc.  I recently had cause to trawl through some old emails and I quickly discovered a theme which I don't think I was aware of at the time the emails were written.  Looking at the messages from 2005, I can see that I was struggling financially.  There were sleepless nights and there was jaw clenching and gnashing of teeth, not to mention swearing and moaning at a calamity of call centres.
It's 2013 and I find myself, once more, gnashing and swearing about money.  The slippery eel has squirmed from my grasp again.  Take your eyes off it and it's away.  My income dropped considerably after finishing the degree (the grant and student loan had bolstered my income while I studied) but I'd signed financial contracts back then that continue now, when the income has fallen.  Basically, I didn't do the math. 
And so I feel guilty, a feeling backed up by the folks at Nat West.  One customer disservice agent in particular seemed to take great pleasure in patronising me, asking how I got into this mess.  Fuckwit.  But this guilt I feel, where does it come from?  Because I was on top of the debt until June, when I was a couple of days late with a payment and suddenly - bam!  Charges put me over a limit and then - bam!  Fees for being over the limit.  So a monthly budget which was precariously balanced, and we'd been tightening our belts for months to keep on top of it, is tipped into the zone where you have to talk to fuckwits on the phone and feel the guilt and explain where you spend every penny of your income. 
I seem to remember a news story about large financial institutions fucking up their finances, taking risks with money that didn't pay off and winding up with trillions of pounds worth of debt.  Do the people who made those decisions feel guilt?  Or did they take home their hundreds of thousands of pounds and sleep on a pillow stuffed with the cash taken from our national coffers?  When I'm late with a payment to the bank I get charged.  When someone is late paying me (and as someone who relies on self-employment for part of her income this is a regular occurrence) I get to squirm uncomfortably and hope they get round to paying me in the near future.  Across the country, people continue tightening their belts.  The cost of everything keeps rising and incomes remain stagnant or fall.  Life at the bottom continues, as it always has, to be a little bit shit.    
This is a familiar theme in many households. It's not a theme I usually bring to my poetry because political poetry is really hard to get right.  So I'll not try for anything fancy, just a short rhyming verse that tells it like I think it is.   
Tits Up
We whine about paying for butter and eggsFuel prices creep up by the dayWe used to go out now we stay home in bedPortillo's alone on the train
It costs more to live in a buy to rent flatThan the mortgage you'd pay on a houseAnd luxuries now include food for the catThat skiver should work; catch a mouse.
No wonder pajamas are worn in the streetsDon't need formal clobber where we liveWe're workers, indebted, meat for the eliteForbidden to tweet and forbidden to meetEternally fed on the chaff, not the wheat A step out of line is an invite to beatThe status quo scoffs while our welfare depletesAnd they're timing our shits while they sip from the teatWe are legion.  We do not, we will not, we cannot forgive. 
Tits Up

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