Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Identity crisis

Had to share this hysterical conversation I just had with the tax credits office. After some preamble here’s what happened:

Civil servant tax office bloke:   “You will have to have an appointment with someone at your local office; I can’t help you over the phone”

Me:   “Why? Can’t you just send me a form?”

Civil servant tax office bloke:   “No I am not allowed to send you a form, I cannot verify your identity, I would need to ask you lots of security questions”

Me:    “I don’t mind, go ahead!”

Civil servant tax office bloke:   “I can’t, I don’t have enough information about you”

Me:   “Just look at my old records, you must have tons of information about me”

Civil servant tax office bloke:   “I am not allowed to access your previous information”

Me:    “Because?”

Civil servant tax office bloke:   “The computer won’t let me access that information until I verify your identity, and I cannot verify your identity”

(This I would add was after I had given him my National insurance number, date of birth, current and previous addresses and partner’s name.)

These are the people who run our government departments… be afraid, be very afraid.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Fairies, Cats & Other Characters

Well, the last batch of illustrations are finished (fairies above) and apparently on their way with the model company to the Spring Fair in Birmingham's NEC. It's a new company so they are no doubt hoping for lots more clients/contacts and work. I have heard good things about trade fairs, they can be expensive to exhibit at, but generally if you have a good product I think the rewards are there. 

I finally got round to photographing the first two models and figures I illustrated, here is Big Ben, along with Boris Johnson on a bicycle that so amused the teen: 

And here is Norwich Castle, with suitably medieval characters:

They look big, but in real life are only a few inches high, the little people being about 5cm max!

The Tower of London, Fairies and everything else were collected on Monday, and on Tuesday I did the second of two workshops for clients of the Mind Charity in Colchester. The workshops were arranged by Slackspace which uses empty shops, unwanted in the recession, for art projects. Its a fabulous idea, but sadly their budget seems not to stretch to heating. Despite my layers of clothes (I learnt the first time that these were sub-zero painting workshops) I still froze.

The people who came were not mentally disabled (as I have worked with before), these were people suffering from various mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety. They were great to work with and seemed to enjoy making the art, but I couldn't help notice how much they talked about their pasts. Despite being in some cases middle aged, their (often very harrowing) childhoods were still very much with them. I have read that the happiest people are those who live in the present, and I think it is true. Whatever has happened in the past, some people seem able to draw a line under it, whilst others let it invade their daily lives. Very sad.

Whilst I was freezing in Colchester boyfriend applied himself to building a proper drain for the studio, rather than the 'big bucket' method it currently employs. Gimlet helped with the concreting (he was obviously the artistic director.)

 When not walking in wet concrete he applied himself vigorously to napping. We are amazed by how stretchy he is. Yes one cat really can take up a (large) two seater sofa. The picture is dark due to the black sofa, but I dare say you can make him out:

 I also managed to take my day off on Wednesday, but made the classic mistake of forgetting that boyfriend was working nightshift this week. All I will say is it's no fun creeping about the house when someone is sleeping, and I was unable to use my sewing machine due to the noise. In the end I wandered round the shops for a bit, and finally ended up back in the studio after all. I didn't work though, just spent the day altering some dress patterns and internet shopping with the radio on. But at least it wasn't work, and I could make as much noise as I wanted.

The layout for the Westminster Abbey model has arrived, currently it appears to be a selection of random and complex geometric shapes, but hopefully during the course of next week, as I scale up the pieces I will start to get an idea of what goes where. Fairies are a walk in the park in comparison...