(Never let it be said that my posts aren't topical.)
With the debate about whether the long-term unemployed should be made to work for their benefits in full swing, I took it upon me this week to officially join the ranks of the jobless.
There used to be a certain stigma about "signing on", but (despite the Tories' best efforts?) these days it seems rare not to know anybody who has spent some time out of work. I, for example, have a plethora of ex-colleagues that have been made redundant over the last few years, and who have been through the process of claiming job seeker's allowance cycle.
It would be a lie, however, to say that I skipped to the job centre with a spring in my step and a song in my heart, however. A small part of me is still slightly in denial about the whole "I need to find a new job" situation, and this seemed like a step too far towards the scary reality.
However, the process was remarkably swift for a public body - certainly faster than getting a doctor's appointment - and relatively painless -again, the staff seemed friendlier than some doctors' receptionists I have come across, and I escaped feeling relieved and unscathed.
I fear, however, that the bright colours of the new claims section may have lulled me into a false sense of security and will give way to the usual smell of dejection and grey public waiting rooms when I have to go back to the inner sanctum next week...