I am having great fun with my hobby.
Though I’m not sure whether it’s a hobby or a game. I suppose it’s both, but that’s not important. People can have games as hobbies?
The rules are simultaneously simple and complicated which may sound contradictory but then that all adds to the fun.
The first phase starts with a trawl through the Interwebs looking for allowances. There are loads of these scattered around the catacombs of gubmint departments and all are very cleverly hidden from view just in case anyone should learn about them and apply for them. Some are even hidden in plain sight and these are the ones to be wary of, as they are the most difficult to play.
The game starts when I download the application forms. These usually run to about thirty of forty pages and look for such vital information as my mother’s maiden name which for some reason seems to have a vital impact on my standing in the community. They also look for financial statements from all my bank accounts for the last six months and those statements can’t just be printed off the Interwebs – that would be much too easy. This is probably the hardest part. It involves phoning around asking for statements and being told that they are available on-line. I have to persuade them that I have to have one printed off by them and sent to me by post. That part of the game is becoming a lot easier though as they are getting quite used to my regular requests.
I then send off a massive envelope stuffed with the form and large wads of bank statements.
The next phase is when they send them all back saying I have omitted something and could I please start from scratch and do the whole thing all over again. As several weeks have probably gone by I usually have to reapply for all the bank statements as of course the old ones are now out of date.
The last game I successfully played was the Medical Card game. I actually thought I was playing the Doctor’s Visit Card game but apparently I downloaded the wrong form, but it was too late to back out, having filled in reams of pages and having annoyed the banks yet again. This game was a perfect illustration of the complexity of the game. You see, having sent off the forms and all the rest I heard nothing for a few weeks so I phoned them. Apparently the delay was caused by confusion over Herself’s pension. I politely pointed out that she didn’t have one and to check their records. They said their records didn’t tally with Social Welfare and they were a different department the other side of the country. So I had to contact Social Welfare who instantly demanded my bank records for the last six months. That’s just the way they play the game. That game ended with a win for me – eventually – and it was then I discovered I had applied for the wrong card and that my new card was much more financially rewarding. A win-win as it were.
My current game is still in progress. It’s the Domiciliary Allowance game [or some such name] that I discovered in a very dusty corner of one of their lesser known websites. I rang them to see if I had to do the rounds of the banks again. The woman was very chatty and cheerful and it occurred to me that I was probably the first person to discover her department in months and she was probably dying for a chat. Anyways she said I would have to resubmit the whole lot as none of the departments shared any records so she would have to have her own unique pile of statements.
For the last couple of days I have been woken by Penny barking at the postman as he delivers loads more bank statements. My pile is nearly complete so I will shortly be moving on to the next phase – waiting several weeks before discovering precisely what I have omitted from the form or what I have failed to enclose.
They think the rules are stacked in their favour. They think I will give up in exasperation. They think they will wear me down until I quit.
They overlook one thing though. I have a lot of time and free phone calls, though I often have to hunt for their real numbers which are hidden behind “low call” numbers which cost me. I can sit here all day listening to Vivaldi or Greensleeves and it costs me nothing.
And also I am really fucking stubborn.