Thursday 10 January 2013


I hate having things weighing on my mind. I hate to-do lists of things that I know I am not going to enjoy. Like any normal person, I put them off for as long as possible. Lists of things I have put off recently include writing a section of the London Bird Report (I had the information for months and started marginally after the deadline), writing to some car hire places in Morocco (in french), sorting out Christmas Thank You letters (only three to write, but there are always other things to do....anything.....). Tonight the last of the great evils was to fall - I was going to do my tax return - yes, before the deadline (but only because I didn't want to be fined). Alcohol in my right hand, National Insurance card in my left, I sat down in front of the computer and didn't start typing.

God what a process. Last week I had to phone up for a number, and today it duly arrived - I thought I was good to go. But no. NI number entered, new registration number entered, I eagerly copied down the third number that popped up on screen with its ominous warning that HMRC would never send me this crucial number again. Right, I'm in! Oh no I'm not! No, apparently in seven working days HMRC will send me, by post, a fourth number that I can use to activate my online self assessment. What kind of bloody moron developed an online system where you have to phone up for one number that they can't tell you over the phone and have to post to you, write down a second number on a piece of paper because they won't tell it to you again by any means, ever, and then wait a week for yet a third number to be posted to you? Have they not heard of email? Do they want my money? By the time this final (I am not hopeful) number arrives about two weeks before the deadline the entire system will probably have crashed and I'll be in the clink for tax evasion. Meanwhile a 71 year old gamekeeper who poisoned two Buzzards (and probably loads more birds during his illustrious career) is fined a fraction of my likely tax bill at the end of a trial which cost the taxpayer many times my tax bill. Is it any wonder the country is going down the pan?

So it is still hanging over me, which is very irritating as I envisaged myself sat here typing with the gay abandon of one who has nothing pressing whatsoever to do for the forseeable future. Here, this is a photo of a sculpture near my office. It is entitled "Man logs onto HMRC Website, in Bronze". I lugged my camera to work today to take photos of a Black-headed Gull that was sat invitingly on the railings when I walked past it without my camera on Monday. Guess what?


  1. Why not do what most large corporations seem to be doing and take the head of HMRC out to lunch and offer to pay a fraction of what you owe as it's 'better than nothing'? Everyone's a winner. Or not.

    Bradders snr tells me you're off to Morocco with jnr. Still running? You'll need some fitness to outrun the legions of children everywhere you stop in Morocco wanting money and pulling your wipers off. Used to be bonbons and stylos, but hey the times they are a-changing... Thick-billed Larks though, now there's a bird, and hot weather, nice food, awesome scenery, deserts; see, cheer up - could be worse.

  2. It's not all doom and gloom Jono. I did my LBR section weeks ago AND my tax return this week, and thoroughly enjoyed doing them both. And HMRC owes me £2.85. Rock on!