Thursday, 6 December 2018

the power of The Smiths

I went for a UC (Universal Credit) "commitment" appointment the other day, due to starting my job.

This is because, even though this job is still classed as Freelance / Self Employed, it affects some of our other benefits. And because Derby is now a Universal Credit area it’s all change for us.

We’ve all read about the shitshow that is UC. But last year, when I was repeatedly answering the same questions when applying for JSA, ESA and Housing Benefit (all while battling the evil PIP beast), we talked about how much simpler it would be to input our info once and it be automatically farmed out to the relevant agencies.

So in theory we’re all for it.

The meeting was fine and we were well prepared. Although it was another case of a meeting where the person we were talking to said, "I don’t actually think you need to be here..."

Part way through, the chap asked if he could answer his phone as his car was at the garage. We said fine but as he walked off we were puzzled by his familiar sounding ringtone.

So when he came back I asked him what it was. It turns out it was Spent The Day In Bed by Morrissey, which we'd heard on 6 Music.

He asked if I was a fan - I said no, but The Smiths were a different story. I repeated my party line that, although I don't listen to them very often, there will never be another band who means as much to me as The Smiths did when I was a callow 13-14 year old.

(and yes, I do repeat this line a lot)

The chap we were talking to said he got goosebumps when I said that - thankfully Mrs D didn't burst out laughing at that or suggest we get a room.

We had a brief chat about the music, Morrissey's recent wrong-headed pronouncements and got back to the job at hand.

At the end of the meeting he said, "I just have one final, very important question to ask you - what's your favourite Smiths song?"

That's quite an ask! (no pun intended) Mrs D helpfully reminded me that my favourite lyric is the opening line of This Charming Man (for the economy - SIX WORDS! - which sets up the world of the rest of the song).

But the song which immediately sprang to mind - and which I still stand by - was The Queen Is Dead.

He said that he was more melancholic so his favourite is Well I Wonder, possibly one of the most hilariously downbeat and self-pitying songs in their whole catalogue.
Gasping, dying, but somehow still alive
This is the final stand of all I am
Maybe this bloke's in the wrong job?

Over the last couple of years, I've had to deal with local government benefits agencies alongside the Department of Work & Pensions on numerous occasions. And the bureaucracy is staggering at time.

But whenever I finally get through to talk to a real person, they are almost without fail incredibly helpful and understanding. And they're the people at the sharp end of carrying out the sticky manoeuvres of some fairly unpopular policy.

Maybe I've been lucky. But the next time you get through 55minutes of call waiting messages soundtracked by Vivaldi's bloody Four Seasons, spare a thought for the person who eventually answers your call.


  1. the chances are then, that this guy bought Morrissey's last album....just think on that for a moment.

    (I discovered the Smiths later, having wisely assumed in my arrogance that they were the kind of band I would hate. No other band ever meant as much to me as that band meant to me at that time).

  2. well, obviously we talked about that. and i'm pleased to report that he is not a fan of Morrissey's wrong-headed alt-right pronouncements.