A Poem…

Some, it seems, just don’t get it.
They think they’re immune and ultra-fit.
But this thing doesn’t care who you are.
Hence its spread, near and far.

Cyclists on pavements, despite roads being clear.
Speeding through town, coming too near.
“Get off the pavement!” I yell at them all.
Because, quite simply, they’re not playing ball.

The rules are simple, but they don’t understand,
How to stop it, getting out of hand,
More weeks of lockdown, if you keep being a tool,
Going out for no reason, like a total fool.

You may be a carrier, and pass it on,
To your daughter, your mum, your dad or your son.
Do it for them, if for nobody else,
Do it for you, and your own health.

The message is clear, stay in, don’t go out,
The rules are to protect you, so please don’t flout.
Stop taking trips, for non-essential buys,
Or you may find, it causes your own demise.

At least if it happens, and you find yourself dead,
It’s one less idiot, to stop the spread.
So, do me a favour, don’t be a din.
Please, for now, just stay the fuck in!

©Copyright – David E. Gates 2020.

More poems and other stories are available in the following anthologies from David E. Gates, available from all good bookstores. And Amazon:

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World Poetry Day

It’s World Poetry Day today and, in tribute to this, and given the current circumstances, the following is my contribution which seems rather apt. For more poems and short stories, see my anthologies: First Words and Unzipped: The Mind of a Madman.

Corona

From China, Covid-19 its name,

Travelled west, and here it came.

Affecting many, making them ill.

It’s one purpose, seeming to kill.

 

Coughing, spreading, without knowing.

Events cancelled, no movies showing.

Calls for calm, as it takes its toll,

Morons stockpiling toilet roll.

 

Panic buying, hand gels and soap.

People dying, a loss of hope.

This virus, it cares not.

Though it hates the weather hot.

 

Take extra care, if you’re unwell,

And it will, be just swell.

Wash your hands, to stop the spread,

Else you may, well end up dead!

 

 

©Copyright – David E. Gates – 2020

“You’re Next” Short Story selected for Podoween Series!

The very kind people at Drunk In A Graveyard decided to deliver a little pumpkin shaped audio gift to their listeners every day in the form of a narrated story.

Day 22’s story, “You’re Next”, was submitted by David E. Gates who, apparently, you should follow on twitter for all your horror fiction needs year round.

You can access the podcast here via YouTube or listen to the audio here.

Drunk In A Graveyard

Broken Society

Youths on the rampage,
Vicious and feral.
Dare to tackle?
At your peril.

Gangs ruling streets,
Squabbling over little,
Reducing communities,
To something brittle.

Bottles thrown,
No care for others.
Mindless vandalism,
By them and their “brothers”.

Kids getting knifed.
Police unable, unwilling,
Citing lack of resources,
To stop their killing.

Where are the parents?
Kids bringing up kids.
No respect for their elders,
Life on the skids.

Society’s broken.
Is there a fix?
Which doesn’t involve,
Faces smashed in with bricks.

No-go ghettos,
And now a dead cop,
Lawless enclaves,
When will it stop?

Don’t give them holidays,
Jail them for their crime.
Repeat offenders?
Treble their time!

Punish them properly.
Stop with the excuse.
That we need to be softer.
For therein lies abuse.

Bring back the stocks.
And make prisons tough.
A six by nine cell.
For enough is enough.

 

©Copyright – David E. Gates – 2019

Normandy

Normandy

 

Upon the beach, they landed thus.
They knew their job; they made no fuss.
The ramp lowered, metal met sand,
They landed in this foreign land.

Without a sound, shipmates fell.
Bullets ringing through this hell.
Running forward, to secure the place.
From an evil, fascist, race.

Sinking in sand, feet swamped by tide.
Bodies floating, on either side.
Heat from explosions, searing hot.
As they plough on, through this rot.

Trenching through nests, of barbed wire,
Pushing on, through machine-gun fire.
Taking out turrets, killing those within.
No time to consider, the mortal sin.

Making peace, out of war.
Bodies piled, injured and sore.
We must never forget, never sway.
To always remember, D-Day.

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©David E. Gates – 6th June 2019.

In celebration of World Poetry Day…

Outrunning the Rain

Outrunning the rain.
Outgunning the pain.
Fighting back the tears.
Even though it’s been years.

Like drops from the sky,
They multiply.
Each glistening and clear.
Each a perfect tear.

Outrunning the rain.
On board the train.
Swept away on the tracks.
As emotion racks.

Biting my lip.
So my cover won’t slip.
Keeping up face.
No matter the place.

Outrunning the rain.
Feeling the strain.
Pain doesn’t subside.
I just want to hide.

Away from the looks.
And into my books.
Distraction is key.
For my sanity.

Outrunning the rain,
Another smile I feign,
They say it won’t last.
The pain will soon pass.

Isn’t like that for me.
It has longevity.
Though I’m better each day.
With strength I’ll outstay.

Outrunning the rain.
Dousing the flame.
Memories keep me sane.
Outrunning the rain.

 

Outrunning the Rain is featured in the anthology, Unzipped: The Mind of a Madman, which is available from all good bookstores in various formats. 

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A Flash in the Pan! New FLASH FICTION

I recently tried my hand at Flash Fiction. The requirement was to write a short story, under 150 words, that featured the word “Slice”.

I’ll be including it in my upcoming anthology, Outrunning the Rain, along with other short-stories, flash-fiction and poetry.

Hope you like it.

 

A Flash In The Pan by David E. Gates

 

Blood ran out of the meat and collected on the glistening white of the plate it was sat upon. A castle of flesh, an inch high, surrounded by a moat of its own juices.

The sound of sizzling fat in a frying pan echoed around the room. The smell, sweet and welcoming, not unlike that which accompanies the cooking of bacon, permeated the air.

“Would you like a piece?” The man holding the pan and leaning towards the slab of meat on the plate said.

Muffled sounds of protest came forth from a figure sat at the table. Their struggle was fruitless, their bonds tight, their mouth sealed.

“More for me then.” The man said, laughing as he pierced the foodstuff with a large knife, lifting and dropping it onto the pan’s surface before turning towards his prisoner.

“Hold still now.” He said, as he began to slice.

The End.

 

David E. Gates’ first anthology of short stories, scripts, poems and reviews, First Words, is available at Amazon and Smashwords.

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Bah Humbug!

Fed up of the excitement, false as it is, of companies and people “celebrating” Christmas way too early (some are advertising it and “looking forward to it” as far back as August!), I wrote the following poem which will feature in the second anthology of short stories and poetry coming in 2018.

Bah Humbug!

Christmas is coming.  

The goose is getting fat. 

But celebrate in October,  

And you’re nothing but a twat. 

 

There’s twelve days of Christmas, 

Something you should remember, 

These days start on Christmas Day, 

Not way back in September! 

 

Bonfire night comes way before, 

Though you wouldn’t know it, 

Put away your festive tree, 

Please don’t dare to show it. 

 

Get excited, by all means, 

But keep it to yourself, 

There’s a time and place for everything, 

Including watching Elf! 

 

Let’s keep Christmas special, 

Let’s really give a fuck. 

Instead of getting all worked up, 

Over a Coca-Cola truck! 

 

The holidays are coming, 

But they’re not quite here, 

Be joyous when the time is right, 

At that special time of year. 

 

Christmas is coming.  

We’ll all be getting fat.  

But let’s leave it until the day, 

To put on our Christmas hat. 

If you really can’t get enough of Christmas, why not read my short-story, The Christmas Carol, available FREE for a limited time from Smashwords.com. It’s a “Wonderfully written tale of suspense keeps you wondering what will happen next.” – Misty Reigenborn.

The Christmas Carol

If you do download and read my FREE short-story, please be so kind as to leave a review.

© David E. Gates – Shelley Show Productions – 2018.

Why do I write?

Several people have asked me why I write and where I get my ideas from. After answering this question on Stage 32, a resource for writers of all disciplines, I put down the following.

 

After reading the first couple of chapters of H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds, in school, I took the book home and finished it that evening. Since then, I’ve always written.

Whether it be short-stories, poems, film-reviews, interviews with the famous or full novels, I’ve always loved the putting together of words to describe something in a specific way.

I was fortunate enough to meet and interview Clive Barker, Terry Pratchett, James Herbert and many other writers and their responses when I asked them what advice they’d give to an aspiring writer was consistent. “Don’t give up. Keep writing. You will get better and better” they all said.

Clive Barker, and his horror work in particular, was inspiring to me and so I wrote. I was published in film magazines such as Samhain and Starburst along with articles and stories for various fanzines, but it wasn’t until I put into words the telling of a personal tragedy that things really kicked off for me.

Access Denied, the true story of an emotional trauma and the subsequent battle I had with corrupt and despicable organisations, was self-published as my first book. It met with immediate success – to date, it has 100% positive reviews! People who read it told me I had a real talent for writing with many of them telling me that once they started reading it that they couldn’t stop. “I couldn’t put it down.” several have said. I was humbled but ecstatic.

The self-publishing boom enabled me to look at some things I’d been working on, revise and complete them and publish them. I write fiction primarily, loving the short-story form and poems, and the responses to my horror books (The Roots of Evil and The Wretched) has been phenomenal.

It’s a hard slog though. The writing bit is easy. But getting people to buy your books and marketing them is a massive struggle in a world that’s saturated with talent (and non-talent). It’s very difficult to get people to try something new. There seems to be no end of competitions which appear to be nothing but exercises in making someone else money, so I tend to only enter those that are free or cheap.

I have already won several awards but real success (to the point – as Arthur C. Clarke did – where his book sales earned more than his day job so he could give up the day job) eludes me presently.

I clearly have something of worth on those pages. What I write is not to everyone’s taste, but a lot out there really like it. If only they’d leave reviews and tell all their friends, I might make a few more pennies. Despite all this, I soldier on, hoping for that big break, to get my stories in front of the right people, living in anticipation that the word-of-mouth explosion will occur. As Clive, James and Terry suggested, I’ve never given up. I’ve come close but my love of creating stories and visions for people is something I’m passionate about and I’m always drawn back to those ideas, some of which come in dreams. Expanding upon them to create a world and characters which people love and enjoy taking the journey with is very rewarding, even if it’s not financially enriching.

Getting that finished book in my hands, all those months or years of effort coming to fruition, is a feeling like no other. And, one day, I’m sure I’ll be on a train or in a park somewhere and see someone reading one of my books. When that happens, I know I’ll be humbled but ecstatic once more. Something to look forward to.

You can follow my blog at www.davidegates.com or my author page on Facebook @davidegatesauthor where you can find details of all of my books and free short-stories to download or buy.

Thank you.

All Books

Access Denied – Abridged Excerpt

After meeting and having a fairly turbulent relationship, Meg tells David she’s pregnant. Overjoyed at becoming a father for the first time, David is ecstatic. Meg gives birth to Kelly and after loving and adoring his daughter for seven and a half years, David finds out she isn’t his. David’s story and the effect this had on him, his family and loved ones is moving and tragic.

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The following is an abridged excerpt from Access Denied by David E. Gates (Winner of 3rd prize in the AuthorsDB 2015 Cover Contest).

The full version of the book is available in Kindle, Audiobook and Paperback formats from Amazon and in other formats from all good online book stores.

 

Whilst our relationship was good, Meg’s jealousy was something I was to witness first-hand on the first New Year’s Eve that we spent together. We agreed to go to Shamus O’Donnell’s – an Irish themed pub which most of my friends gravitated to, to bring in the New Year. We all got on very well with the landlord and his wife and having a lock-in was the norm. That was one of the main attractions of going there as, before licensing hours were extended, most pubs chucked out at eleven o’clock at night.

When the chimes of Big Ben echoed throughout the pub via the television or radio, everyone moved around the pub hugging and kissing each other.

I can be something of a flirt at times and when it came to my moving around the pub, and finding myself kissing the rather attractive barmaid, Meg’s jealousy came to the fore. She blew up and made it clear that my enjoyment of celebrating with the barmaid was overstepping the mark. Feeling I’d done nothing wrong, I disagreed with Meg. We argued. I could have understood it if I’d had my tongue down the barmaid’s throat, but I hadn’t.

I ended up leaving the pub and then walking away from Meg as she continued to argue with me in the street. I hate arguing in public and felt it best just to go home.

I got home and waited for Meg to turn up. By the time I went to bed, she still hadn’t come home and I got a text message saying she was staying over at Adam’s house. I wasn’t altogether surprised. Adam and Meg got on very well together and it was clear he’d looked out for her when I’d gone home and left her there.

Meg turned up the next day, wearing one of Adam’s t-shirts which made me initially suspicious that something had gone on between them. I was assured nothing had and it wasn’t long before we made up.

Friends would later come to describe my relationship with Meg as “turbulent”, “up and down” and “on and off”.

We broke up several times in the first couple of years. I didn’t attribute this to any particular party’s fault. The age gap may have had an influence to some degree but I don’t remember being aware of this being an issue per se whilst we were together. I think that we just wanted different things from the relationship.

Even when we’d split up, during late 1998, we were still sleeping together and spending evenings together from time to time.

So, when Meg phoned me in early February of 1999 to tell me she was pregnant, I was a bit tactless to say the least. We hadn’t been together properly for a while though had continued to sleep together. I still remember the first thing I said to her when she told me she was pregnant:

“Is it mine?” I asked.

“Of course it’s yours, David.” Meg said.

 

 

The baby was due around the first or second week of November 1999. Everything was ready for the new arrival and there’d been no further scares or worries during the weeks leading up to the expected birth date. Everyone was excited.

Two weeks past the due date and our baby still hadn’t arrived by a natural course of events. Meg was instructed to go into the hospital to be induced. We attended the hospital on a Sunday evening and Meg was prepped and given inducement drugs. I stayed as long as I was allowed but had to leave once it was clear nothing was going to happen that evening.

After twenty-four hours, there were no signs of dilation and Meg was given further doses of the inducement medicine to try and expedite the birth but this had, seemingly, no effect in prompting the birth either.

Yet another day passed and there were still no movements or signs that the baby was going to come out on its own volition.

Meg was exhausted. The hospital ward she was in was noisy due to other mums either making noise through discomfort or from sounds of impending births. As a result, she’d barely slept over the last three days and was totally exhausted.

The next morning, Wednesday, Meg was taken for another scan. Everything was okay and the mid-wife said that no further inducement drugs could be administered as Meg had already had the maximum dosage over the last few days and she’d have to wait for at least another day before she could begin the course of drugs again.

We were told there were two options: Wait until the course of drugs could begin again and hope the baby makes an appearance in the meantime or have a caesarean birth.

We asked the mid-wife what her recommendation would be. She explained that as a nurse and mid-wife she was an advocate of natural births and recommended these whenever possible. Sensing her professional stance on the predicament we were in, I asked her what she would do if it was her that was due to give birth in exactly the same situation. She went on to explain that the placenta, the “food and nourishment” resource for the baby whilst it’s in the womb, was drying out. It had been more than two weeks since the baby was due after all and this was not unexpected but the further the placenta dried out then the bigger risk there was to the baby. I pushed her to speak “off-the-record”.

“If it was me lying there, I’d go for the caesarean.” She said.

We spoke with the doctor and explained we wanted a little time to discuss the options and, most of all, Meg wanted to spend a night in her own bed so she could rest properly ahead of the birth seeing as she’d barely had any sleep in the last few days.

The doctor agreed this was okay but told us we had to make a decision before the next morning.

We returned to Meg’s parents and determined, for the sake of both mother and baby, that the caesarean was probably the best course of action if nothing happened before our return to the hospital the next day.

Meg enjoyed a long relaxing bath and a good night’s sleep in her own bed.

 

*     *     *

 

On Thursday, 25th November, we returned to the hospital shortly after lunchtime. Nothing had happened overnight and we decided to progress with a caesarean birth. It wasn’t our preferred option but in the absence of the baby making any movement to come out of its comfort zone, it seemed to be our only choice.

We had to wait for some time before the theatre was available and then we were “smocked-up” in operations theatre clothing. I was dressed in a blue “robe” and hat whilst Meg wore a white all-in-one loose-fitting gown.

Just after 3.00 PM, we were led into the theatre. Meg was anxious and I held her hand trying to keep her calm.

Two doctors and two nurses were present. Meg was to be given an epidural to counter the pain she’d experience during the operation and the doctor opened Meg’s gown at her back and started using his fingers to count down the vertebrae in her spine to determine where to insert the long, thick needle to administer the anaesthetic. He was having some difficulty locating exactly the right spot and urged Meg to remain still and calm. Feeling it was my cue to try and relax Meg, I tried to take her mind off the situation.

“Just think, you’ll be able to have some cheesecake when this is all over.” I said. Cheesecake was Meg’s favourite dessert and during the pregnancy she’d not been permitted to have any.

Meg laughed and the doctor frowned and again reminded her to keep as still as possible. My eyes widened with guilt at the faux pas I’d made.

The needle finally went in and Meg, clearly in some pain, gripped my hands so hard the end of my fingers whitened as the fluid from the syringe was pumped into her spine.

After a few moments, Meg was laid on her back and one of the nurses put up a small “screen” over Meg’s belly, hiding the area where the doctor would operate from our view.

I continued to hold Meg’s left hand as I was positioned on a stool beside the gurney.

The doctors raised Meg’s gown over her belly and began the operation. Despite my curiosity and macabre interest in all things of blood and gore, I felt unable to bring myself to look over the screen to see the intricacies of the operation that was happening right before us.

Meg had relaxed and within what seemed to be no time at all, the doctors had performed the caesarean and the baby was brought out of the womb. Held for a moment just high enough for us to see, the bloodied form was cradled by a nurse and taken to the far side of the operating theatre. We were told it was a baby girl and I told Meg that I hadn’t known what to expect but that the sight of our little girl was “the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.” I wept, as I am now recalling this here, and kissed Meg as we waited for the baby to be cleaned and passed to us.

Within a few moments the baby, having been cleaned and weighed – a whopping ten pounds five ounces! – was passed to me. Meg’s prone state made her unable to sit up as the doctors continued to complete the operation by sewing her belly back together.

I held the little form in my arms and showed her to Meg. We both cried.

The nurse took a photo with the camera I’d brought in, and told me that if I put my little finger in the baby’s mouth, she’d suckle on it. Normally, the baby would be passed straight to the mother to bring it to the breast quickly but due to the operation this wasn’t possible. I did as the nurse instructed and instantly bonded with the baby that was our new daughter.

The operation was eventually finished and Meg was able to hold our new-born. We were placed in a room just off the ward where Meg had spent several sleepless nights.

A different mid-wife gave Meg instruction on breast-feeding which she attempted and continued with despite great discomfort. The baby fed well and, despite the pain Meg was feeling, she persevered to breast-feed (and would do so over the next two weeks) to ensure the baby received all the nutrients and anti-bodies that are so important for good health and immunity during the formative years.

We spent the next few hours together as a new family and started to think of and discuss various names for our new offspring. Had it been a boy, it would have been easy we each agreed, but a baby girl was something that we’d given scant attention to of in terms of providing a name.

The end of visiting time came quicker than expected and I was forced to leave Meg and our baby together in the hospital. Far from being upset to do so, I saw it as a chance for them to bond and for me to tell everyone.

Once I was immediately out of the hospital building, I phoned my parents, Meg’s parents, and several of my friends. I truly couldn’t believe I was a dad and the action of telling each and every one that I phoned brought tears to my eyes every time.

I arranged to have a quick drink with Chris [Butch], a friend from work. I spent the time excitedly telling him everything that had happened over the last few days. It had culminated in being the best experience of my life to date. After a couple of drinks, I returned to Meg’s parents and, exhausted, fell asleep a very happy and elated “Dad”.

 

 

Once Meg became redundant, everything changed. And it didn’t change for the better for either of us.

As Meg wasn’t working and was now claiming benefits, I disputed the maintenance in respect of the child-minding costs. Surely, as Meg wasn’t working, the requirement for the child-minder wasn’t there? Meg argued against this saying she still had to have Kelly at the child-minders as she had “things to do” during the day.

We were unable to come to an agreement and the maintenance ended up staying at £340 per month, an increase which had been agreed earlier in the year on the original sum of £300.

I then received contact from the Child Support Agency. The dreaded CSA[1].

The CSA was created in the late nineteen-eighties, under the government led by Margaret Thatcher. The CSA’s main remit was to make non-resident parents responsible for the financial well-being of their children.

With the Child Support Act being passed in 1991, the CSA was empowered. They developed extremely complex systems and formulas to enable them to make non-resident parents pay to support their children via child maintenance payments.

The CSA and their unfairness, bias towards the parent-with-care (in most cases, the mother) and extreme incompetence are well documented in the press and online.

It’s well known that several men named as the Non-Resident Parent (NRP) have committed suicide as a result of the CSA’s involvement in their lives and whilst the agency stringently deny that their actions were a contributing factor to those taking their own lives, the evidence – in particular suicide letters that directly blame the CSA and the pressure they bring to bear on the poor souls they affect and their unrelenting pursuit of people with little ability to pay, not to mention two or more systems in operation in parallel which make the entire thing even more unfair, is clear.

 

*     *     *

 

On July 5th, 2001, I became 35 years old. Life was pretty good for me. Despite my commitments to Kelly, I had a lot of free time and invariably spent it with my friends in Portsmouth.

On my birthday, I went for a drink with Dean and another school friend, John. John was a laugh and enjoyed having a drink. During the course of our drinking and celebrating my advancing years we discussed the idea of getting away for a holiday.

We wanted somewhere that was lively, cheap and where we could almost definitely get laid.

“Ibiza.” John suggested.

“Superb”. I replied.

Within a day or two, the week-long trip was booked for a couple of weeks later. We flew to Ibiza and enjoyed the sun, sea, clubs and copious amounts of alcohol. Neither of us got laid.

During the holiday, I received a phone call. It was from the CSA.

 

*     *     *

 

I had previously received notification from the CSA that I was being pursued for child maintenance. After speaking with them on the phone prior to my holiday, it was explained to me that they had become involved initially because Meg had been made redundant and it was usual when a someone made a claim for child support that the CSA would get involved. It further transpired that Meg had, within a couple of months of being made redundant, obtained a new job and had requested that a private claim for maintenance be continued via the CSA despite there being no formal requirement for this.

I was aghast. Whilst things weren’t brilliant between us, we had a reasonable relationship and seemed to be working together for the benefit of Kelly. I was at a loss as to why she wouldn’t want to return to our previous agreement and would want to involve any agency with such notoriety as the CSA. Why would she want to destroy the amenable relationship we had?

Involving the CSA would only cause me to stop being as flexible as I was with payments and help when Meg, or Kelly, needed it.

That said, the CSA directed me to their assessments calculation page. I completed the online assessment and it came out at a little under £300. Less than I was paying now anyway! I tried to explain this to Meg and told her that I thought her involvement of the CSA would only have a detrimental effect on our situation and relationship in respect of Kelly but she was as bloody minded and reticent as ever that the CSA should pursue me. I tried to convince her that she might receive less money than she was already getting if the CSA assessed me according to their website assessment.

“My friends said I would get more money from you if I went through the CSA” Meg told me. It was clear it wasn’t about what was in Kelly’s interests. It was about the money.

It looked like a holiday would be just the tonic after this.

 

*     *     *

 

The woman on the phone to me whilst I was in Ibiza explained that they’d completed the assessment based on the paperwork I had returned. The magical figure they’d come up with, based on my salary and income at the time, was more than £480! I was stunned! £480!! How the fuck had they come up with a figure more than fifty percent higher than their estimate from the assessment made via their website? I could understand it if it was a bit over, but more than fifty percent? Surely it was a joke?

I said that there was surely some mistake but the woman was unhelpful to say the least and refused to assist further. She simply kept stating “It’s what the system has come up with.”

I was truly staggered. £480 per month to support just one child! That was nearly a third of my take-home salary. It was unbelievable.

The woman explained that I would receive a breakdown of how the sum was determined by post. I thanked her for ruining my holiday and hung up.

 

*     *     *

 

When I returned from my holiday, I saw the assessment from the CSA. It was confusing to say the least. It seemed to ignore half of the information I had provided to them. In particular, it refused to take into account travel costs to and from work.

I contacted them and they simply said I wasn’t allowed to have travel costs, despite my office location being more than sixty miles away from my home. They refused to accept my claim for doing a round trip of more than one-hundred and twenty miles, every week-day, costing me more than £250 per month in petrol.

Their reasoning for refusing my claim was because I had a company car. Despite the fact I had to pay for my own fuel, they refused to re-assess me to include my travel costs stating that I had to appeal. The person at the CSA said they would send me the appropriate paperwork.

After several days the forms arrived and I began the appeal process. The paperwork was ridiculous. Pages and pages to fill in. Just to make a simple appeal against one aspect of their decision.

Forms were completed, sent off and, eventually, a date scheduled for the appeal hearing. It would take more than three months just to get the appeal heard. In the meantime, I was to pay the full amount of maintenance. I was barely keeping my head above water paying the £340 per month privately so I didn’t know how I was going to manage £480 per month. I supplemented my income with credit card spending.

I attended the offices in Southampton where the appeal was to take place. Meg was also present though I didn’t know why she had to be. I refused to speak to her there, still angry at her pursuing a private claim through the CSA when we could have come to an arrangement that suited everyone without involving an outside party. Whatever relationship we had before was already in a downward spiral.

After about half-an-hour of waiting, we were invited into the hearing. Three people, two women and a man, sat behind a long desk. The woman in the middle was reading through my appeal claim and advised me that I had completed the wrong paperwork.

“That was the paperwork I was sent from your office.” I explained.

“Well, it’s the wrong paperwork.” She replied abruptly.

“Why is it only now, when I’ve come all the way to Southampton some three months since I returned the paperwork for my appeal, that this has come to light?” I asked.

“I don’t know.” The woman replied.

I was extremely angry. “I suppose if I get the correct paperwork, it’ll be another three months until my appeal is heard?” I questioned. “I mean, how do I know if any new paperwork comes as to whether or not it’s the correct one?”

The people behind the table shifted uncomfortably in their seats as I began raging.

“I can’t believe this!” I said, my voice raised but controlled. “What a waste of time. And just because some incompetent didn’t send me the correct forms! I can’t believe I was made to come here and that no-one noticed the forms were wrong before this!”

The woman in the middle spoke again.

“I will ensure you are sent the right forms.” She said. “We’ll get them sent to you right away.”

I was livid. Not only had I wasted time and petrol getting to the hearing, I was also going to have to go through the whole process again! This, as I was to learn, was simply the first experience of several I was to have in relation to the incompetence of the CSA.

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© Copyright – David E. Gates – 2013