Saturday, 17 March 2018

Progress with memory-related situation

I've been in the same job on the same wage with the same organisation, working the same hours, for a decade now. Recently, due to governmental reforms, I've seen my income plummet after DLA was scrapped and PIP implemented. As a result of this, for some complex reason, my Working Tax Credits were also stopped. I spent a long time on the phone to HMRC trying to find out why this was, to no avail, then I got some pretty clear answers from a Welfare Rights officer. Also, over the last two weeks I've met with my manager, visited Get Oldham Working, an organisation who 'can help you get the skills to secure the career you want,' and I've visited Positive Steps, an 'integrated support services for families, young people and adults.'

Everyone I've dealt with has been hugely helpful. Positive Steps have arranged another meeting with the Citizen's Advice Bureau- hopefully it'll be a day I can do, although in all honesty I'm not sure what I'd be talking about- not much has changed since my last CAB appointment.

Positive Steps also explained:
· Job centre advisors unfortunately only work with people who are unemployed.
· There is a careers fare at Oldham Library on 14 April 2018
· Get Oldham Working are running a Raise Programme which you can get in contact by email. (I've done this.)

In a separate meeting with my manager, we used an online benefits calculator that suggests I should be in receipt of over £200 a month in Tax Credits. After logging into my account it showed that HMRC couldn't deal with my claim online, but that they received something (it isn't clear what) in February. Something is being processed and I should receive more information by the 5th April. It's probably the letter I sent them asking about why my Working Tax Credits were stopped, and complaining about the horrendous procedure I've been thorough when asking for information.

That said, Citizen's Advice told me that my letter has probably been ignored as it isn't on a 'dispute form,' something NOBODY told me anything about- certainly not anyone at HMRC.

I guess I'll find out after the 5th. I'm meeting Get Oldham Working again next week.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Neon PT Launch Health Kitchen in Wilmslow

I've just got back from another launch, again ran by Steph Ledigo at Ledigo PR. This time, Steph and her team were organising the opening of Neon Health Kitchen, a new restaurant on Wilmslow's Water Lane. The promo Email explains that 'Neon are well known in the area for providing quality service at their 5* PT studios in both Alderely Edge & Hale,' and have now branched out into the world of food.

The clean and trendy-looking venue supplied guests with Chilli prawns and pastry canapΓ©s straight from the venue's kitchen, and they were snapped up by the guests who included Key 103's Darren Procter and Real Housewives of Cheshire's Leanne Brown. Also making an appearance- Love Island's Jess Rose.


Looks like a great new venue. It's a little out of my way but I'm sure it'll do well. When I got to the venue it was heaving, so it's safe to say the event went down a treat.

The Daily Mail beat me to the writeup.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Casa Loca in Impossible

Every time I go out with this one particular friend she somehow works her charms and blags VIP for the group, and I end up not going home until 7am. Last night was one of those nights. (I ended up drunk alone in a casino watching Scott Quigg get beat.)

We started in Dirty Martini and made our way over to Impossible for the Casa Loca party. The stunningly-lit venue plays home to a retro circus act, but one featuring a man hammering a nail into his own face and a skinny bloke in striped pyjamas sword-swallowing and juggling at the same time.

Eyebrow-raising, stomach-churning entertainment. Not for everyone, but I loved it. Apparently, Wayne and Coleen Rooney were there. I didn't notice. But I was drunk.

I'll return.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Well, the Tory government have kicked me in the teeth.

This week I met with a Welfare Rights officer to try to get to the bottom of why my Working Tax Credits were stopped. It took a bit of explaining on my part, but the officer, we'll call him SA, described clearly enough what had happened and what the situation is.

Until the end of 2016 I was on both elements of DLA, WTC and the DLA element to WTC. My DLA was stopped and I was asked to apply for PIP. I applied, was offered an interview, was assessed, and was flat-out refused. I applied for Mandatory Reconsideration, with the help of SA and his colleagues (and my parents, and Independence and Prevention Officers), and I was awarded one element of PIP- the Mobility element at £20 a week.

Not long after this, my WTC were stopped. This was, according to the HMRC letter, due to 'a change in my circumstances informed to us by a third party.' I inquired. It turned out my WTC were 'under review,' and that I should phone back in a month. I did. I got the same message. I waited another month, and got the same message again. Eventually I got a letter saying that I'D informed THEM of a change, and that my WTC (which had already been stopped) would be 'stopped.'

I sent a letter of complaint to HMRC asking why this was. Of course, the letter did not garner a response.

After meeting with SA this week, I've found out why all this happened, and it's something that HMRC could very easily have told me if they wanted.

Some people were moved automatically from DLA to PIP. I was not. Because there was a break between these two benefits, that break notified HMRC of a change, and hence my WTC were looked into. I had been on both elements of DLA- Care and Mobility. The Care element was the part that allowed me to receive WTC, despite working fewer hours than would normally be allowed. (30 hours is standard; I work 22.5.) As ATOS only awarded me the Mobility element, I don't qualify for WTC any more. If I worked 30 hours, I could apply for WTC at the normal rate (dependant on my income). I would not qualify as a 'disability claimant' though, despite being on PIP, because the Mobility payment doesn't cover that.

I'm one of thousands of people who were moved from DLA to PIP. DLA was the least-abused benefit of all of them, and it's been well-documented that there was no need to scrap it other than cost-cutting. Therefore it's fair to assume that there will also be thousands of people who also lost that Care component, and can now no longer claim WTC. This will save the government millions. As many news outlets have covered, including The Independent, nearly half of all claimants- including myself- saw their income reduced or stopped altogether. That's how you know this isn't about 'updating a failing system,' or 'making the benefits system more appropriate for the individual,' or whatever Newspeak the Tories want to reel off- it's about cost-cutting, plain and simple.

I now need to look for another job. I either need a second job that fits around my current, part time one, or another job with more hours. Either that, or my current employer needs to offer me more hours. I just wish someone would have told me this earlier.

Friday, 9 March 2018

Symposium Cheshire Katz Club Open Mic Jam Session

Did you ever think, when you woke up this morning, that you'd be watching Scott Thomas (Love Island, brother of Emmerdale's Adam and Corrie's Ryan, as was) performing The Prince of Bel Air?

I didn't expect to witness this impromptu karaoke performance either, but when I dropped into the open mic night at Wilmslow's cosy but tidy Symposium last night I wasn't sure what to expect- partly because I'd lost the email invitation from the talented Steph at Ledigo PR and I couldn't remember what it said.

Scott also busted out some Biggy Smalls and BB King, and to follow this, Nicole Barber-Lane (Myra McQueen in Hollyoaks) duetted with Duncan James from boy band Blue for a rendition of Mustang Sally.

Providing the acoustics, and a few covers of their own, were The Mad Hatters. Great manic music, including a high-speed indie version of Sisquo's Thong Song.

Duncan James

Nicole Barber-Lane screen left- I forgot who the girl on screen right is! Any ideas?

Scott Thomas

A great evening, with friendly guests. I found it easy to chat to people, male and female, verified and unverified, after rolling in solo. I would have jumped on the karaoke myself, only they had no screen for lyrics. That was the only thing missing. Get in touch with Ledigo PR to keep up with their next events!

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Go Away, Snow.

Social life: on hold. The only interesting thing I've done is drop into Club LIV for a Couture Clothing sale. The club opened up on Friday morning selling men's and women's sportswear. Great gear, including my purchases: a fluffy zipped hoodie and a bomber jacket. Was hoping for a full tracksuit- maybe next time!

The Sonique Night didn't happen- the weather put people off, and getting people to come to a dance music night is hard these days. RnB has got way too popular and has pushed out a lot of house music events and clubs. Plus the house music people are, more often than not, having babies.

Also, one inevitability has happened: swanky nightclub Suburbia has closed. It might have looked all posh, but I had the place sussed out early- the John Dalton St venue was full of plastic gangsters, and played the same RnB music as most other places. I got a bad vibe whenever I went there. Too many dickheads fighting.

Online, celeb gossip email system Popbitch included my 'Muggy' Mike Thalassitis gossip. Awesome.

Things are quiet at the mo- I'll have more to say when the snow fucks off.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Typical Challenges Facing Those with Memory Difficulties

One of the reasons I started blogging in late 2006 was that I couldn't keep track to what was happening in my life. I was forgetting what I had done, and what I needed to do, and there were problems I was facing that I felt sure others would be dealing with too. I wasn't particularly confident enough to properly describe them online, though, that being part of the problem. Eventually, though, my parents encouraged me to write about these issues, seeing as after years of NHS treatment, I was a fair bit more capable than I used to be.

Rather than complain about the problems I'm facing, I'd prefer to explain them and describe the situation, and possible routes forward, or lack thereof. A day at a time, I'm jotting down these concerns when they come to me, using Omninotes, an app on the Google play store. I can put all these ideas in one bullet- point-listed note titled Psychology Saturdays, whenever they come to me, wherever I am. Every Saturday I look at my calendar and see what has happened, and what will happen, to come up with ideas for a post. If there's nothing that relates to events at this particular time (e.g. depression support group Andy's Man Club taking over a Parkrun, something I've covered a couple of times) then I can fall back on stockpiled ideas saved in the app.

On the issue of OmniNotes- there is one problem I've found with the incorporation of multimedia. With Microsoft's OneNote, I could drag pictures into the middle of a block of text, or to the end. With OmniNotes, any picture I add to a text note gets slammed in right at the top. This means I I want to write something about that particular picture, and then perhaps include another picture with a different paragraph of accompanying text, they get separated.

This week there are a few small points to make. I managed to get another NHS fine refunded on the grounds of memory difficulties. I appreciate their understanding and their acceptance that I wasn't trying to rip them off. I was getting confused between PIP, which doesn't cover prescriptions or dental treatment, and Working Tax Credits, which were stopped. There has been no explanation for this stoppage.

In fact, I've filed a complaint against HMRC over the way they have handled my case. I've waited over a year to find out why my WTC were stopped- I've received no explanation. Is it to do with my hours of work, which haven't changed? Is it the fact that I was allocated PIP, which would have been a change in my circumstances, albeit one that came from HMRC's own office? Is it some other thing I'm completely forgetting about? Nobody knows. HMRC won't tell me.

I've made numerous calls to the HMRC helpline, which has frequently been engaged- no ability to queue, no recorded message- just an engaged tone, as if there's one handset receiving all the calls from the UK. When I have got through, I've been told my case is 'under review'- but eventually they sent me a letter saying that I'd 'informed them of a change,' so they were 'stopping' my WTC. What was this change THIS time? And did they not know they'd stopped it already? Do they not realise how insulting that is to some one who has already told them their disability stops them understanding formal documentation anyway?

What a joke. I have a Welfare Rights appointment on Thursday- I hope I can explain my situation properly to him, and I hope I understand what the officer advises me to do.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Meeting Muggy Mike

Love Island's 'Muggy' Mike Thalassitis dropped into Manchester's Birdcage club on Friday for a meet-and-greet. Love Fridays, The Birdcage's weekly Friday party, is a great fun night with young clientele.

I got into the queue early and asked Mike the eternally divisive question that Popbitch likes its readers to inquire about: who do you think would win in a fight between a baboon and a badger? Mike is decidedly team baboon.

The queue for pictures was much shorter than when Love Island's Dom and Jess dropped in back in July. It was still a fun night. More RnB than on previous nights, guys wearing trainers, one guy who looked like Tom Sizemore, and a girl wandering around in her underwear. Can't complain.

I went with Manchester Cool Bars. We'll be back in Birdcage soon!

Monday, 26 February 2018

Come see Sonique in Bliss

2000's singer Sonique will be performing her hit Feels So Good in new club Bliss, on Saturday. 

Free tickets are available here for a short time! I've not been to the club yet but, from their Facebook, it looks great and a little different from the norm. Manchester Cool Bars is going, and you should join us! Let's start in Knott bar, near where Deansgate Locks links onto Deansgate.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Long Table Dining at Bakerie

Northern Quarter bread and wine bar Bakerie is making waves on the food and drink scene, and making bread in their on-site oven, in their Lever Street venue. A friend of mine and I dropped in on Wednesday night for their long-table dining event. On the menu this week: Hungarian Goulash.

The long table dining is great way of meeting new people: you could get a ticket and roll in on your own, and you'd get talking to people from all over the world, as quiet disco music emanates from the background speakers. The friendly crowd included lookalikes of Moby, Miguel Ferrer and Carrie Fisher. 

The chef will bring out the freshly cooked food from the kitchen next door to the downstairs private dining room as the manager fills you in on the background of the dish. It tastes great, and is well-suited to the cold northern-English weather.

The next event is on March 21st.

Saturday, 24 February 2018

No More Chocolate... Again

I'm going to make a gazillionth attempt to give up my favourite vice.

No, I'm talking about chocolate. Don't bring the tone down on my blog, please. In substitute, I'll get my sugar from fruit but I won't eat a great deal of other snack foods. I'll keep this going until either:

  1. I beat my bench press record
  2. I beat my horizontal dumbbell fly record
  3. I beat my dips record
  4. I beat my 10-minute run record
  5. I bring my weight down to under 80kg (I'm currently at a horrendous 85.5kg).

Inevitably, after one of these targets are hit I'm going to crash back in, but if I treat myself to time with friends, reading and films, I shouldn't feel the need to substitute these pleasures with junk food. I'll stave it off as long as possible.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Come Meet Love Island's Muggy Mike in The Birdcage

Nothing gay to see here, people. 'Muggy' Mike Thalassitis from Love Island, and currently on Celebs Go Dating, is dropping into Manchester's The Birdcage this Friday for a meet-and-greet.

Love Fridays is how The Birdcage kicks off the weekend. Manchester Cool Bars is dropping in. Get involved! We've been before and had some great nights. Hot people, drinks deals, and reality TV stars. The most important things in life. Well...

The point is, it's great fun. Get involved.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Quick roundup

This week I got tweet favourites off Love Island's Dom Lever and singer Tallia Storm.

I'm still crippled after yesterday's Parkrun. I plan to be a much better runner by April.

A post shared by Matt Tuckey (@matttuckey) on

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Andy's Man Club Supports Bradford Park Run


As mentioned 2 weeks ago, support group Andy's Man Club took over the Parkrun in Bradford's Lister Park this morning. Another Oldham member and I drove to Bradford for 8:30am this morning, branded in AMC gear, while the Huddersfield branch of the group did the marshalling.

I marshalled last time, but recently made a plan to practice running and be ready to run in a Parkrun whenever AMC's next takeover took place. It sprung up on me quickly on Facebook, so I jammed in a few runs at the gym and started to get my speed up. I've only ran in a Parkrun once before, in Barking in 2013, getting 25:30.

Before the starting whistle, an AMC / Parkrun organiser gave a quick speech about men's mental health, explaining that suicide is the number 1 killer of men under 50. Andy's Man Club was set up to reduce that number by helping men to talk to each other.

My prediction was that I'd probably get about 45 mins- I'm a lot heavier and haven't run as much recently. I was right: I got 44:51. My knees and calves are now absolutely battered, and I'm taking my time doing anything else today. That said, I'm planning to run again at the next AMC takeover in Wakefield, on 7th April, so I'll continue running at the gym.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Celebs Go Dating: Groundbreaking Televisual Entertainment.

I got a few tweets off the gorgeous Tallia Storm this week, singer and star of Celebs Go Dating.

Also Team GB's Tae Kwon Do Bronze medallist Bianca Walkden liked my tweet. She's also pretty hot.

I've honestly not done a great deal. Snow and DWP being the main obstacles.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Children's Mental Health Week / DWP woes

The last day of Children's Mental Health Week 2018 is tomorrow. Obviously I have no children of my own, but I have friends who do. You don't need to have a son or daughter who is at crisis point to find this website helpful. Mental Health is as important a part of children's and adult's lives as physical health.

It's great that adults and children are being encouraged to speak up about mental health problems. If I'd have been encouraged as a teen I wouldn't have half the problems I've got today. If this campaign saves people the strains I went through, it's a great thing.

Meanwhile, I still haven't got any sense out of the DWP as to why my Working Tax Credits were stopped, and whether or not they are still under review. I'm going to appeal the fact that they were stopped, and I've written a complaint letter about the procedure. To make a comparison, I had a similar problem with ATOS when I applied for PIP. At first I was flat out rejected, but ATOS sent a letter breaking down exactly why they wouldn't pay PIP. (Their opinions were awful- anything I'd ever managed to achieve was used against me.) I applied for mandatory reconsideration, and was awarded one element of PIP, about half of what I was getting under DLA.

In comparison, the DWP have offered no explanation as to why my Tax Credits were stopped. 'A change in my circumstances' is the closest I've got.

I don't know what to do. I've booked a GP appointment to attempt to get a referral to Social Services, on the rock-solid understanding that the help I need is with tax, benefits, employment and legal issues- NOT emotions. I've been in SS before and the person I was put with didn't have a clue what to do with me. I won't let that happen again.

The DWP have given me a deadline of 23rd Feb. They've given me a separate deadline of 26th April in relation to a £416 fine from apparent overpaid WTC. THEY pay ME the Tax Credits. How am I supposed to know if they're overpaying me? Why can't they get it right first time? I don't know, but the plan is to pay this and get it behind me, then hopefully get it cancelled and refunded.

Now. Adding to the confusion, I have savings in an ISA. These savings have come from being incredibly careful with money- in 2011 when I was first awarded DLA, I was afraid of spending it as I knew that at any point the Tories might arbitrarily decide to strip me of benefits. Unsurprisingly, this has (partly) happened. I now can't apply for Universal Credit, the replacement benefit, because my savings are too high. These savings, for the record, are in an ISA, not my current account. If you try a cashpoint robbery, a) I've only got about £300 in my current and b) I'll just snap my debit card and deal with the consequences. It won't be long, though, before these savings diminish, especially if I have to pay for dental treatment, prescriptions and eye tests- and, who knows, maybe more fines. I have no idea which boxes I've ticked on which forms.

I was advised to contact Turn2us, a benefit charity, who in turn suggested I go back to Welfare Rights, who have given me a certain amount of help in the past. I've filled in a Welfare Rights Service Contact Form online. There is apparently a 2-3 week wait list on this, so I'll have to wait for their call. The problem is, I don't know what exact questions I need to ask them and what, in detail, has happened with the DWP and my case in the last few months. I can't remember the details. I can show them the notes I have, though.

It's a shite state of affairs, as Renton would say, but I'm moving forward steadily.

Friday, 9 February 2018

I'm out of nuts, set me free

Nothing Anastacia-related to see here.

Back on the 16thJanuary I wrote that I had bought loads of health snacks and then not eaten them. I planned not to eat any more junk food until they were all devoured.

One thing I didn't plan for, though, is the use-by date passing. Over the last few days I've brought these bags of nuts into work, checked the best-before-end, realised this had passed, and then binned them. I think having the square meals and not snacking between them, no matter how healthy those 'treats' might have been, has been more beneficial than trying to force-feed myself 'healthy' snacks. I've not really craved chocolate or Chinese food, I've had plenty of chicken stir fry and fajitas loaded with cabbage and peppers, and I've made a few attempts at making sweet jacket potatoes (not as filling as you'd imagine). So how have I fared?

I was at 86.3kg- I'm now at 82.4kg. 3.9kg down. I was at 60 dips- I now have a PB of 70. I've joined in a few more classes at the gym, and I find I put more effort in when we're all doing the same thing and there's an instructor pushing us on. I'm practising running in preparation of another Andy's Man Club Parkrun takeover- the next one being a week on Saturday.

Let's not cave in again, yeah?

Thursday, 8 February 2018

#tbt Beermats: Week 16


A post shared by Matt Tuckey (@matttuckey) on

A post shared by Matt Tuckey (@matttuckey) on

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Holy shit, Russell Crowe tweeted me.

Shit. Just seen the forecast: rain and snow towards the end of the week. Dry January, not that I participated, is over, but I won't be putting up many events as it's still fucking freezing.

My Ron Jeremy info made it into E-mail gossip newsletter Popbitch.

And then... this happened.

Ho. Lee. Shit. Russell Crowe, of Romper Stomper / LA Confidential / The Insider tweeted back. 2.4 million followers and this LEGEND responds to me. What a dude.

Also, so did the beautiful Tallia Storm, who's currently on Celebs Go Dating. Fantastic highbrow documentary.

So January is finally over, and the plan is to get a few more events lined up. Problem: I need to wait til payday, and it's still snowing anyway. Next week there's one thing so far.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Molested by a Cross Dresser at a Route 94 Gig

This is not a joke.

I'd put up a Meetup with Manchester Cool Bars and Clubs some weeks ago to see house music producer Route 94 in Gorilla, organised by Sanction Events. House music nights don't get as much response on the Cool Bars page as RnB nights, and this time I got only one other RSVP, who (predictably) didn't show. I wanted to see the DJ play anyway, so I lone-wolfed it.

I got to the door at 11pm and, being a guy on my own, security predictably searched me. Obviously I had nothing untoward, and they were just doing their job, so all was well by this point. By midnight the club was full, and the music was great. I was one of the oldest people there, with the clientele being mostly 18-24, except for one very old woman who I quickly realised wasn't a woman at all.

I basically did a two-step for 3 and a half hours, enjoying the music but essentially waiting for Route 94 to start. After a few hours I felt something trying to tickle my crotch. I looked down and followed the arm up, and yes, it's that cross dresser. I told him to fuck off. I've worked in the Gay Village before and I've dealt with this from gay people a number of times; the only way to dissuade them is to be abrupt. Don't be shy or awkward about it; don't try and be nice. Just straight up tell them to get fucked.

I did consider getting the door staff. If I'd have done that to one of the girls in there- which I DEFINITELY wouldn't, for the record, The doormen would have taken me outside and beaten the shit out of me. But If I'd have gone to the door staff and told them what happened, they would have laughed in my face. So I just ignored him.

I have no doubt that women receive abuse like this a lot more than men do, but that's no reason not to speak up.

Aside from that, it was a good night. People were generally chilled out and well-mannered, and I got talking to a group of guys- one of whom had also been asked for sex by the same transvestite. Said man came back over to the group saying, “Do any of you boys wanna shag me?”

No thank you,” I stated, speaking for the group (not that I knew, obviously).

 Cool DJs and great music. Here's me with Route 94:

At the end of the night, though, the cross dresser did walk out hand in hand with some young lad, so perhaps persistence pays off.

If you're reading this, Route 94, we were having a conversation about chips a while back.

I won't be putting any more ticketed events on Meetup as to get a good deal on prices you have to buy early, and getting people in the group to commit is too much hard work. I do want more house music nights and less RnB though so I will have to find a balance!

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Andy's Man Club Take Over Bradford Parkrun

Men's support group Andy's Man Club again takes over another Parkrun, the international public-park-based 5km dash. After the success of last month's Halifax event, AMC will return to the Parkrun scene, marshalling or running in branded AMC gear, this time in Bradford in 2 weeks today. Both of these towns provide branches of the group for men to talk about their issues, and the movement is having a great effect on people's lives and the perception of mental health in the UK.

At the Halifax event I marshalled, wearing the branded outfits and cheering on the runners. This time, I'm going to run. Yikes! I haven't ran in a long time, and when I did it was a long time since I'd ran before that. The weight I'd gained had caused a setback, shall we say, and I'm even heavier now. So here's the plan for getting fit.

I keep records of my personal bests when I visit the gym. My oldest PB- the movement that I've left unimproved upon for the longest- is, you've guessed it, running. I've not beaten my 10-minute run record since 14th May 2013, running at 14.1km/ph, a fair dash.

My second-oldest PB is chest press, at 103.75kg, set on 29th November 2014. So here's the plan: work on these two movements in every gym session, between now and the 17th. I'm very unlikely to beat the running PB, and bench probably won't happen either, but I'm aim to beat both of these, starting from 7km/ph and 5kgs respectively. I'll be at the gym 6 times a week, although 2 of those visits will be classes, not actual gym sessions. I may also throw in a few short outdoor runs on my days of too. Current body weight: 82.4kg. I'll try and get under 80kg by the 17th.

Bradford isn't exactly local to Oldham or Manchester but the camaraderie and interest between Parkrun and Andy's Man Club was fantastic last time. Members from various groups made it down It's worth getting there for 8:30am!