The New Year: a golden glow of optimism

It’s Friday morning and things are looking good.  I sat having my early morning beverage, a lemon and ginger ‘tisane’ as Hercule Poirot, that most famous of Belgians fictionally called it, basking in the sun as it rose above the hill on the opposite side of the valley into a cloudless sky.  Though the overnight temperature didn’t drop below freezing (0.5oC) there had been a slight overnight frost which portends well for the weekend which is forecast to be sunny and cold.  Today at least there is the prospect of a wide-choice of things to do outside fuelled by a surge of optimism and adrenalin.  Maybe we will have a winter after all.

A golden glow of early morning suffuses the valley

And I have had my roof repaired.  The half-day I spent stripping off the tiles on the offending corner of the roof and attempting to solve the problem failed so I had decided to get a roofer to do the job.  I was quite happy to tackle it myself but working on my own, as an amateur, I couldn’t be sure of completing it in a day with the prospect of forecast fine weather turning out wet (as it has done on at least 3 days recently).  So last week I got a local roofer to give me a quote and baulked at the £1,000 he quoted.  A complete joke for the amount of work and materials involved.  On Monday morning I phoned up another roofer: he came within the hour, quoted £150 for doing exactly the same job and did it on Tuesday afternoon.  Done, finished.  Marvelous.  A real load off my mind.

But … a very big BUT …. not as much a load off my mind as successfully submitting my on-line tax return yesterday.  You can have no idea how much I dread that every year.  It’s not that my tax affairs are complicated; they couldn’t really be very much simpler.  It’s an irrational fear I’m sure, fuelled by having to locate the relevant bits of paper, remember the relevant codes and passwords needed to access the on-line process, and navigate around the huge form which changes every year.

This year the process didn’t start well as I had put my P60 in the proverbial safe place.  It took 1½ hours of searching before the vague memory of the sensible, rational place I had put it could be coaxed out from behind memories going back to prehistory.  I managed to retrieve the codes with not too much difficulty because, while searching for the P60, I had spotted the bit of paper on which the reminder of the key was scribbled.  I should explain that the core tenet of my security system is to hide things in plain view surrounded by gargantuan amounts of irrelevant rubbish.  I’ve got car insurance policy documents going back 15 years to disguise the current one.  It’s a system which clearly works because my car insurance document is still safe.  Somewhere.  And, after all that, finally I managed to navigate the on-line form and complete the process.

You have no idea the lights and bells which went off when the magic words ‘submission accepted’ come up on the screen.  A bit like the finale of the 1812 overture accompanying a firework display on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

I quash the monster which crawled out of the slime and whispered:  “but are you sure you did it right?  Perhaps you forgot something and you owe them money.  You know they’ll come and get you, send in the bailiffs”.

No, the euphoria triumphs.  My 2010-11 tax return is finished.  I can put it to the back of my mind for another year and just groan as over the next month I get the inevitable 3 letters from HMRC advising me that my tax code has changed.  Why can’t they get it right first time?

I have been reading ‘Etymologicon’ by Mark Forsyth recently, a very erudite and amusing investigation of the origin of words and the association between them.  So I mused a little about my fear of doing my tax return – ‘taxophobia’ I guess it would be.  It struck me that it could well be related to ‘taxidermy’  and that what I was really experiencing was a fear of being stuffed.  I checked, and it’s wrong.  But a nice thought all the same.

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