So it’s Saturday evening… and back in the good old days plans would be being made for a serious session down the local followed by a decent Ruby Murray on the tramp home. Money not really an object but instead merely beer tokens and curry coins for the night. A night to be spent assessing the world’s problems and the relative qualities of any attractive lady who might walk past our table.
But hey ho, those days are gone for the moment and due to a DWP cock up I have survived the last two weeks on meagre rations with the help of the local food bank and a friend who realises that without my rolling baccy there will be a potential one man riot in my area. Some call it a luxury (love the Daily Mail) while those in the know realise a thinly rolled ciggie can be the difference between sanity and homicide!
So I make an assessment of my worldly provisions and realise, well, I’m not going to starve (thank you kind food bank people) but certain things are not supplied and are running low or non-existent. Milk is needed as is bread so it’s off to the jar of many pennies to calculate my financial buying power.
I know I have 81p in my bank account so I could go to the local Tesco and get a cheap loaf of bread on that. I also have £1.83 in pennies so I have spent the last 30 minutes working through my priorities – milk, rolling papers and maybe some cheap margarine. Now it’s off to the local Tesco to fill up their self-service machine and hope not to get too many withering glances from the queue behind as the pennies clank through the system.
Now I know that all sounds grim, and to some extent I guess it is, but in reality it’s just a different challenge from the ones I faced when I was dealing with the big boys’ world of serious money and media and organising tens of thousands of pounds to be paid, moved, invoiced and ordered across the world. A world where I had more credit cards than clean underwear and I never thought twice about blowing a couple of hundred on a night out. Nowadays life is much quieter and even in the moderate poverty of being an ex-offender on the rock and roll in GB PLC 2012, things are not so bad.
I look at my current situation now as transitional, just as I suspected the good times were also just a phase of my life even while I was enjoying them (and perhaps that’s why I enjoyed them with such fervour). We all have bad times to face in our lives and sometimes they can seem insurmountable and never-ending. This has led me and many others towards depression and despair.
However, with my meagre finances of the evening, some hot food later and a cup or ten of coffee I am rich beyond the dreams of billions of others on this planet. I am also lucky enough to have relative health (even if disabled) and dammit, just because I did something wrong and got caught a few years back, I will not let that define who I am and who I will be in the future. It’s bloody hard dragging the get up and go out of myself each day and much harder for some than for me but here are a few things:
1. If you wallow in despair and self pity they have won.
2. If you give up on yourself then so will everyone else.
3. If you have the freedom to walk out your door whenever you choose – you are free
4. If you don’t like your life, change it. No-one else will.
5. People who write lists like this one are a real pain in the arse and should just sod off down the shops!!!
All I’m trying to say is this – the fact that you are an ex-offender means you’ve already made the biggest and best decision of your life. Make some more decisions for your future and even if some of them turn out to be mistakes, you can only learn from the things you do and not the things you don’t. Take a chance on yourself – you know you deserve one!
Article taken from issue 16 of theRecord.