Balancing The Books

If you’re sitting comfortably with Gemima, Little Ted, Big Ted and Hamble, we’re going to look through one of Mark Neary’s inner windows. Today, let’s look through the paranoid window.

I’ve just posted my second attempt at completing this year’s financial report for the Office of the Public Guardian. Don’t ask about the first attempt. I made such a pigs ear of it, it was returned with a whole page of clarifying questions. As soon as I open the envelope, I panic and that mood persists until I get the all clear.

I picture the OPG like some austere maiden aunt. One who is excellent at darning old socks. One who is a dab hand at making gorgeous stews out of yesterday’s leftovers. And this maiden aunt tuts a lot. She disapproves if I help myself to an extra custard cream. And she doesn’t think I wash behind my ears often enough.

Of course, in reality, the OPG is nothing like this. Whenever I’ve spoken to them on the phone, they have been very human and very helpful. When the Visitor paid a call last year, she was great – very straightforward and supportive. So, why have I turned them into a corsetted Great Aunt Gertrude.

I know where it comes from. I never used to be unnecessarily fearful of authority figures. But over the past few years, I find myself quaking in my brogues. I suspect that I project my experiences with Hillingdon’s direct payment manager onto every other authority encounter. She terrifies me – “MR NEARY. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES CAN YOU USE YOUR DAILY ALLOCATION TO FUND AN EMERGENCY NIGHT SHIFT. YOU MUST SEEK MY PERMISSION FIRST. DO YOU UNDERSTAND THAT?” When she barks at me, I become 8 years old again and have just been told off for wasting my pocket money on 5 back copies of Whizzer & Chips.

It’s not a good idea to give a financial and property deputyship annual report to an 8 year old to complete. If I can’t account or explain every last penny of money I’ve spent on Steven, will I be sent to my room?

Here are some of the fantasy chastisements I’ve conjured up over the weekend:

“Two new tellys this year Mr Neary?” “Well, Steven is autistic and TVs are fragile. QED?”

“£140 to replace the support worker’s spectacles?” I then launch into a robust defense of a messy meltdown over a missing Proclaimers CD, as if I’m in the witness box at the High Court.

The one piece of expenditure that has caused the biggest anxiety this year, goes like this:

“I see, in column 6 Mr Neary, you spent £45 on a life size Mr Bean cardboard cutout. I can see the offending item, looming in the corner of the living room. Explain yourself boy. And in the meantime, I am going to boil your goolies in brine and send you to an assessment and treatment unit, until you take your responsibilities more seriously”.

At this point, I choke on my sherbert dip and wet myself.


8 thoughts on “Balancing The Books”

  1. I wrote a really careful reply a moment ago and it just disappeared into the ether. Something is out to get me today. Paranoia must be catching.
    Be strong – financial panic attacks respond well to de-sensitisation and the Great Aunt Gertrude approach!

  2. Hi Mark, its nice to know my son is not out of the ordinary when it comes to autism and sometimes the necessity to take their anger out on the television set or computer monitor. We are now on our second new television set in approximately 4 months and I have lost count of the TV’S and monitor’s we have gone through over the years. I often wonder particularly in my son’s case who is still on DLA how they calculate the higher rate benefit, to fit all sizes.

    I think you do a brilliant job of keeping people informed.

    Thank you.

    1. I’m not sure that it is about anger Trevor. When Steven goes into a meltdown, it usually because of overwhelming anxiety. The consequences can be aggressive but I don’t think it comes from an angry place.

  3. Hi Mark, thank you for pointing out my wrong choice of word, I totally agree that overwhelming anxiety is a much more accurate description.

  4. So what happened to that other 8yr old who captured Great Aunt Gertrude who was actually a wicked undercover spy and tied her to a tree – and probably donning the red indian outfit, shot her with arrows?? At the risk of mixing my metaphors… you and the outlaws wouldn’t allow a mere woman to beat you!!

  5. How much is YOUR time/life worth?

    My multiply handicapped middle aged son lives on his own in ‘supported’ living.

    After years and trillions of (often legally supported) meetings we have only recently got agreement from LA that he will in future be agency supported to his diary full of hosp.appointments. I have been ‘it’ up till now and am in danger of falling off my aged perch. I ring hosp to check details as son cannot read. I dutifully asap email care manager and inform of appointment/need for support. I do this repeatedly usually without reply, then ring duty office where phone just rings on. Also ring agency repeatedly in flawed hope….

    Agency will not provide support unless care manager emails the OK each time. This may be because LA is slow in paying/or challenges potential costs. Who knows? (Rhetorical)

    This last week (again) I spent desperate hours over many days emailing care manager and phoning an absent duty team. And trying agency in hope……

    I had to ring hospital and cancel appointment.

    Should I send a bill to LA for their careless use of my time? (Rhetorical)


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