I had a holiday booked. Yes, I know what you’re thinking: why did I need benefits if I could afford a holiday? Well, it had been paid for months earlier when I wasn’t on benefits and anyway it was just camping; nothing fancy. So it was all arranged. I was very honest with the Job Centre. I wasn’t going to be away for a signing on day so I could have got away without telling them at all, but I like being honest. Anyway, their policy is that you can have holidays as long as they are within the UK so I didn’t think it would be a problem.
The issue arose when I mentioned on my form that they wouldn’t be able to contact me. They say they want to be able to contact you in case they find you a job. I have never met anyone who can tell me that the job centre have ever rung them to say they’ve found them a job. In fact, this particular job centre had admitted to me that they can’t find people jobs. But anyway, they wanted to be able to contact me. I explained that I couldn’t charge my phone because there wouldn’t be any electricity, but they were welcome to try and call me, if they liked.
“Well don’t be silly dear” the woman replied “What if you want to make a cup of tea?” I decided that “I don’t like tea” wasn’t an appropriate response so I explained to her about the invention of the camping cooker. She attempted to disprove my crazy idea that people could live without electricity with a few more points like this. Then she frowned for a moment and then looked triumphant: surely this time, she had got me! She fixed me with a condescending stare, sighed and said “Well there must be electricity, otherwise, how will anyone straighten their hair?”