That’s Why They Call Them The Blues by Charlotte Bennie

That’s Why They Call Them The Blues

I remember when I first realised a Blue Badge would be useful. We had returned from a fraught day in Glasgow; where I’d come into intimate and painful contact with a variety of street furniture. Not because I’d partaken of more gin than was good for me but because something scarey was happening to my eyesight.
So, I asked my GP how I could apply for a blue badge. A wee skelf of a man, whose idea of fun was running up and down Cairnsmore no matter the weather, he listened to my account of bashed shins and ricked ankles, then exclaimed the badge scheme was intended for those with mobility difficulties. I, however, could walk. I agreed but qualified this by stating I couldn’t see where I was going.
The upshot was he gave me an introduction to the Social Work office. The rest, as they say, is history. And, eventually, I acquired a badge. Whenever the badge approached its expiry date, or rather, when someone noticed this, for I can’t even tell if the badge is the right way up, I just phoned the Dumfries office. Popped the nearly expired badge in the post; and withing a few days, the replacement had arrived.
Not any more! Replacing a blue badge now involves as much paper work as Greece negotiating a loan from the Common Market.
Recently, Husband noticed my blue badge would expire in June. Since a friend had warned me about the palaver this now entailed, I decided to set things moving and phoned Dumfries for a form. About the same time, an e mail pinged in; informing me that, in several weeks, my badge would expire and shouting dreadful warnings. The punishments meted out in “Game of Thrones” are as
nothing compared to the fate of those who use outmoded badges. These threats aside, the e mail reminder is an improvement, especially for blinkies like me who can’t distinguish between a blue badge and, well, anything. No, it’s the general rigmarole which saps the will to live! Apparently, the form can be accessed via the web. Aye, right! We can all guess what THAT will involve. I just captured Husband and we had some lovely Us Time, ansering all the questions.
Unfortunately, I had to provide proofs of identity. Even with sighted assistance, an organised filing cabinet and documents in braille, this was a challenge.
Then, there’s the proof you are decrepit enough to qualify. In other words, communications from DWP anent DLA or PIP. Here, the wording becomes slightly vague. As far as Husband and I were concerned, All that was required was information issued within the last twelvemonth. However, when we rolled into our local Social Work office, I was told I ought to have also included my original letter of qualification. I’m still unsure whether this was essential, but best to be prepared.
Then, there’s the passport type photo. Somewhere in this house, I must have a stash of the things, charting changes in hair, both style and colour, general fashion and fluctuations in weight. But, I can never locate this. Now, I have an up to date set; And at the moment, I know exactly where they are. But over the next few months, they’ll gravitate elsewhere.
Everything red up and organised, Husband chauffeured Miss Pupkin and me along to our local Social Services office. I handed the shebang over to a wee wifie. Who blanched at the wodge of braille I’d included. When she said she couldn’t read braille, I explained I could no longer read print, so what was the difference?
She had her revenge though, when she noted I hadn’t brought that original letter of award. And, the photocopy of my passport needed to be ratified. By someone to whom I wasn’t related. I offered Husband. Well, although I’m married to him, he’s not a genetic relative. I know this is unusual in Wigtownshire but I don’t understand why this was greeted by such a rebuff!
It took another visit, later that afternoon. With my passport in the flesh, or rather, its, wee, leather case and that letter dating from 2011, stating I’d become eligible for the Higher Rate of Mobility. I didn’t dare admit I’d had a badge long before that.
About seven weeks later, on 5th June, the new badge arrived. Before these improvements, all would have been completed within a working week.
Is this trouble and fash preventing fraud? Is the reminder e mail really yet another way to stress folk? In fact, is this new system just another example of institutionalised bloodymindedness?


One response to “That’s Why They Call Them The Blues by Charlotte Bennie”

  1. Joyce Jordan says:

    Brilliant Charlotte – I think the satire may be lost on the DWP but it really made me laugh. Joyce

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