It was sometime in April, six months into my first bout of unemployment when I first realised I wasn't alone in my struggle. I was reading the paper at my friend's house when I came across this cartoon, and thought "...My life has become a Dilbert comic." At that moment I felt a great affinity with Dilbert. This comic summed up six months of being on jobseekers; it was shit, but it was funny in a fucked up sort of way. Quite often sitting in the jobcentre I'd start giggling, but I'm still not entirely sure what about. Needless to say I'm still on the dole and so are plenty of my brethren, so I've decided to write an article about jobseeker survival which I'll post up next week, I just need to take some pictures of hot art students first. The column below can serve as a starter dish before the main course. It's a little story about the lengths people are driven to to scrounge up a few pennies. There are plastic charity dogs with more money in their bellies than I have in the whole world and it's very important to always try to twist their heads off when you walk by. Never give in to those filthy hounds.
By Slater Wilcox
Having been somewhat noodled by the economic recession, redundancy, and the subsequent slim pickins of the benefits system I recently took matters into my own hands to scrape together a few extra pennies. No my friends, I wasn’t quite ready for a job. Fuck that shit. Nor was I quite ready to start selling my silky soft artist hands for use in dark alley handjobs. Before I reached those sorts of levels I thought I’d try my hand at little of the ol‘ “unpaid voluntary work”; a bit of the under the counter, hush hush, job ‘n’ knock work. You know – benefit fraud.
I put out the word on the streets and soon I had a call from my sister saying that I could do two days work, Friday and Saturday, at a pheasant shoot in Devon, cash in hand, free lunch and port. Not very vegetarian of me, but fuck it I wasn’t going to eat the little bastards. Thursday rolled around, I got all my shit together as to look the part – moleskin trousers, studded wellington boots, and the shooting jacket which belonged to my brother-in-law’s grandfather. I spent Thursday night thoroughly loose on booze, so that come seven o’clock Friday I woke up to my alarm like an enraged bear who had been rudely awoken from heavy sedation. I couldn’t see properly, I stunk, and I just wanted to smash, kill, destroy. I briefly lay there feeling angry at the world before remembering that I was going to spend the day hitting trees with sticks and sending countless innocent animals to their deaths. I felt somewhat better and got out of bed.
Turning up at the farm where the shoot was leaving from was like going back in time 100 years. Tweed everywhere, deerstalker hats, moustaches. One of the trainee gamekeepers turned up in his work van, down the side was printed “British Mole Catchers”. I shook my head in disbelief that people actually get paid to exclusively catch moles. We all congregated in an small barn which I noted had a quaint little log fire going in the corner. We received our instructions and then the seventeen of us “beaters” entered the small horse trailer which was decked out with two benches on either side and five horizontal bars running through the middle divide (later the 300 odd dead birds would be hung from these). The back was closed up, shutting out most of the daylight and we were then towed away by a shitkicker in his John Deere tractor. It felt like something sinister was about to go down, maybe it was just the raging hangover turning me into a weenie wimp, but I was getting a distinctly Nazi Germany vibe.
Basically the seventeen of us "beaters" spent the day rounding up pheasants from a series of pleasant locations, hitting everything in sight and waving our flags till the feathered bastards flew off to their deaths at the hands of some toffish, hooray henry prick with a shotgun. It was in a maize field I had my first “Schindler’s List” moment. The maize was up to my neck and every so often I’d see a bird fly off towards the guns and blast out a trail of shit behind them. I couldn’t see them, but the noise of the hen pheasants was all around me “pee! pee! pee!”. I didn’t feel too good anymore, those upper class shitheads had already killed enough to boast about, this was just getting greedy and murderous. A couple of hens came running through the long maize towards me. I held my flag tight to my side, looked the other way and let them run past. I would be known as “Slater Wilcox the Merciful” to their chicks, if they survived the next day that is.
The day slowly progressed in the same fashion, until it was time to get my blood money for the seven hours I had put in to the avian Final Solution. I was tired, cold, I had eaten too many pasties and my wrist hurt. I was given my envelope containing the hard earned cash. My spirit broke as I pulled out four crumpled up five pound notes. The same amount given to the feral 7 year old whom earlier in the day I had seen take a shit about 200 yards from where I was standing in clear view. My morale was crushed, and I just wanted to leave.
I had already agreed to work the next day so I went at it with a hardened heart, knowing I was getting paid about £2 an hour. Fucking pheasants, fucking toffish cocksuckers, fucking feral 7 year old shitter, fuck fuck fuck. Another seven hours went by at a painfully slow pace, another 300 birds were shot, 1600 cartridges were fired, £25,000 was shelled out by the Hooray Henry pricks for the weekend, and one Slater Wilcox went home feeling truly plucked for measly £40.