15 December 2018

Evidence

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It hasn't snowed heavily this year, but the cold has set in, the bitter 1920s cold of the house on Victoria Road that comes in through the fireplace. I don't want to ride my bike, so I have been running everywhere, changing out of my running kit into a jumper and jeans like superman when I arrive at work or the city. It's a good cold for running and feeling the inevitable mud-suck of winter removing your agency in the nights that become longer and longer until they don't. At the end of the year, everything is erased — nothing has happened. I feel it as I struggle through the paperwork of my final visa in this country, the indefinite one. I went through my calendar for the last five years, everything that had happened as entries of events and plane departure and arrival times, but I couldn't tell if they had really happened. I was in the States this year, wasn't I. I was in Japan. There was that AirBnB in Queens, and the runs around the lakes in Växjö. I'm sure they happened. I'm sure there are pictures.


Evidence is both a verb and a noun. Evidencing the truth can be a complicated matter, particular when you need to evidence an ongoing state. Evidence that you have lived in the house on Victoria Road with your partner, as an example. This does not mean evidencing that you both lived in the same place, this means evidencing that you lived together in the same place. It's a small, but important distinction that the government judges through official letters addressed to both of you, at the same address. But what does any of this mean — I came home from work and shuffled through papers, happy to see that the water bill and council tax bill were in both of our names. Proof: see here, proof that I am married, that my marriage is real and not just some discourse accumulated over the years.

I can't sleep, of course, that should go without saying. A few days ago, I got up, hungry at two in the morning and ate and just kept going. Who needs to sleep when there is no evidence you exist any way. I read the news and meditate and then the kids start to wake up and I pester them. They need things from me, one pound coins for Christmas jumper day at school, or use of the credit card to pay something, or spelling words read out to them from the Tory spelling curriculum. I happily oblige, like they are some handhold on the cliff edge.

The evidence is just not there — we have to admit it. The right people had not authorised everything I've done. I sit in a chair in a small office and say that I didn't know I was supposed to report whatever it was that I was supposed to report. I'm sorry. I say to the barman at the Plough, our pub in Harborne, after I put my phone up to the credit card machine to pay for my toast and coffee, It's weird that this NFC chip in my phone makes me real. It's a neoliberal trick — capital as evidence you have agency and that agency is just the capital itself, it's not really YOU in any meaningful way and he asks me which table I'm sitting at.

Evidencing is not something everyone understands. As I write this, a letter comes from the water supplier that I ordered to evidence that Yoko and I were together in the house on Victoria Road in the first quarter of 2017, but the letter they have issued has yesterday's date, with all of our water use for the last two years. No, I say, in my head to the woman I chatted with on the Severn Trent website on Wednesday, No, you don't understand. I don't need to prove that I have used water for the last two years, or that I have paid for that water. I need to prove that you, the water supplier, thought in 2017 in March, that Yoko and I were using water together in the house on Victoria Road. That's the proof I need — what you've sent is useless to me. I have literally already thrown it away.

I argue with a woman at the Life in the UK test centre about where I was born. I argue about about immigration law with people who need to write letters for me, official letters. I go to bed, but I wake up forty five minutes later. You're stressed, you should relax, I tell myself in the mirror. You shouldn't worry. The LED light has been flickering, you should replace that, anyway. That you can do without evidence.
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