On the day they crowned their new king I had 90 quid in the bank, 50 on the electric meter, 20 on the gas. I had just enough petrol in my 13 year-old car to get me back & fore to work the required number of times before payday, so long as no major body parts fell off, so long as I didn’t get a puncture, so long as I kept the revs low & nothing mechanical or electrical failed. If I pranged the car I was f*ckt.
If the 10 year old gas boiler in my house gave up the ghost, I was f*ckt. Or perhaps not so much f*ckt as there would be no hot water for a bath & after a few days I would begin to pong & have to resort to boiling my 5 year old kettle, marching up & down the stairs until there was enough hot water in the tub that I could at least get the face washed, the feet, groin & armpits scrubbed. If the fuse blew or the element in the kettle went I was f*ckt.
There was food in the cupboard but not much & I was bored of eating the same tinned stuff day after day. Often I didn’t eat till I was famished. The work troosers, which were my only troosers, were loose enough around my waist that I had to wear a belt & tighten it to the second last notch. I could not afford to get dizzy & fall over at work. So, like a good soldier, I filled a flask & packed a sandwich every morning before I went out the door.
I had been in the job just over a year & had fewer rights than some of the roadkill I passed driving to or from my place of work. It was a precarious situation but one I had become accustomed to. Whenever I seemed to get that little bit ahead, that little bit closer to being in a more financially secure & therefore more psychologically stable position, something happened. As though the powers that be had it in not only for me but for every worker that made it through the pandemic even though they had constantly informed us that we were essential. Essential in what way, one was tempted to ask. Essential to the continuation of their authority.
That same authority that kept essential persons such as myself in precarious positions where we could be more easily manipulated & therefore controlled. But surely that couldn’t be true. Surely the powers that be were not deliberately targeting folk such as myself in order to make their own lives easier. Surely they did not believe in sacrificing folk such as myself in order that they might enjoy the finest available luxuries, live a stress free existence well into their 90s while folk such as myself dropped dead 2 years into retirement if they were lucky enough to last until they received permission to retire.
Surely the political system in these islands had not been engineered in such a way so as to ensure folk such as myself dropped dead as close as possible to that particular point in time when the authorities deemed our duty to be done, our services no longer required. Surely it was not the case that essential folk should die so that authoritarian c*nts both elected & unelected could thrive, become ever more powerful in their non-essential positions to the point where they evolved from the non-essential to the inconsequential, became decadent, extravagant, irreverent beings of no usefulness whatsoever.
The aim of the game being the creation, promotion & subsequent adulation of a specimen almost as useful as that union jack tea cosy you purchased on a whim the other day & might live long enough to consider, not just a frivolous purchase but a tad culturally insensitive on that fateful day when an essential worker such as myself appears in your line of vision tasked with making an instant decision on whether, seeing you terrified, writhing, gasping like a stranded haddock on your bathroom floor, he or she deems you essential enough to bother their arse about, or not.