STORIES FROM THE FRONTLINE: VIEW’s latest issue is online tomorrow

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The latest issue of VIEW, which looks at the effects of austerity on people’s lives, is online tomorrow.

To highlight this issue, Sara Boyce sent us her poem The Brown Envelope which perfectly captures the reality of austerity.

A big thanks to guest editor Mary McManus, manager of the East Belfast Independent Advice Centre and Advice NI who supported this issue.

Sign up at http://viewdigital.org/sign-get-view/ to get your FREE copy sent to you.

The Brown Envelope by Sara Boyce

Nestled in that bowl between Divis and the Craiganlet Hills, Belfast’s citizens are more divided than ever.

Words still evoke visceral reactions, Now though, mantras have been replaced by the more mundane.

Ditchwater dull words like ‘brown envelope’ trigger a gut response:

Belfast Citizen One: tummy flips, heart flutters, head pounds, blood crashes through your arteries, glands go into overdrive; saliva and sweat.

The sound of your gate creaking, of the soft swish of the letterbox brush, of something settling on your doormat, all fill you with dread. You finger the thin envelope, flip the kettle on and light a fag, try not to think the worst; Sundays are the best days when there is no post.

The alphabet’s a jumble before your eyes – ESA, DLA and PIP, death by a thousand letters, a thousand paper cuts.

You set the letter against the mantle clock, And try to recall, before you push away the chair, When your precious life stopped counting.

Belfast Citizen Two: tummy flips, heart flutters, head pounds, blood crashes through your arteries, glands go into overdrive; saliva and sweat. The sound of an email zinging, of a soft briefcase unzipping, of palms being rubbed together, all fill you with anticipation.

You finger the thick envelope, wave that finger and call for drinks all round, try to quell your excitement; Sundays are the busiest days for your show houses.

The alphabet’s a jumble before your eyes NAMA, NCA and PAC,

You blink, fix your cuffs and they’re gone.

The weekend rolls in again, and with it, that damp Lagan fog. Some will lug home shopping bags from Iceland, while others will blow their fixer fees in Ibiza.

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