Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Catching up

Well, hasn't January been busy. The combination of a three-week Christmas holiday and a perilously delayed tax return left me with no option but to burn midnight oil at a rate that must have had the good people of OPEC feeling well chuffed. But things are returning to what passes for normality in the Observatory, so I thought I'd give my regular human reader and dear old Googlebot a quick update on various items in the 'pending' tray.

Superintendent Helen Chamberlain of Nottinghamshire Police was, you may recall, caught giving it some serious miles per hour on the Epperstone bypass. I'd missed the story, but at her trial date in December she changed her plea to guilty and was duly sentenced: six points on her licence and over £1,500 in fine and costs. The district judge made some rather pointed remarks about the original decision by the police officer who stopped her but sent her on her way instead of reporting her for prosecution. I feel rather sorry for him, to be honest, even if it was a poor decision. I feel no sympathy whatsoever for the Superintendent; if she'd pleaded guilty from the outset (and I maintain she must have known she was well out of order) instead of trying to run a defence based on her own Force's radar guns being inaccurate, she'd have paid a third less on her fine and would have avoided the full trial preparation costs. And a deal of embarrassment. Two careers blighted, probably, and avoidably so if she'd had the cojones to wind her window down and say: "yes, I was well over the limit, and I believe it's your duty to issue a fixed penalty or a report for prosecution".

Moving on. The Salutation - oh, for heaven's sake, I don't need to hotlink this, it's right below this one - appears to have a chance of survival. Fingers crossed the plan can be made to work, though as I feared the future of The Royal Children seems very uncertain.

My schtick on Lord Mandelmort and Ed Balls (two down) was proved inaccurate very quickly. The word on Whitehall is that it was one of Ed Balls's 'special advisors' who fitted up Mrs Johnson and her close protection officer (f'nar) to the media. There are also rumours about Mr Johnson, but they are so scurrilous I couldn't possibly comment. At any event, it seems Ed Balls doesn't need Lord Mandelmort's help... cue Star Wars music and a thin voice rasping "you have learned well, my young apprentice..."

And now a few words about tax returns. Her Maj's Revenue & Customs (a fine body of computers and a couple of rather fetching terriers, if what I hear about staff cutbacks is right) are so obliging as to allow some ten months for one's tax return to be submitted. I naturally, therefore, left it until the very last week of that window to begin work on my sales figures and expenses for the tax year.

The word 'procrastination' derives from Latin, thusly:

'Pro' = for, until
'cras' = tomorrow
'tination' = oh, FFS, get on with it, you lazy sod

I may say, though, that I put great effort into keeping my tax affairs squeaky clean. I believe we should pay our due taxes if we believe in the provision of public services and public support for those who are out of luck and need help. On a pragmatic level, I can't be doing with being found out trying to fiddle a few quid and living the rest of my life on the HMRC shitlist. OK, the computers find it inconvenient to make house calls, and the terriers can only do much (particularly with the number of lampposts around the city), but they are rightly tenacious with known offenders. Such a pity, then, that at the highest level HMRC appear to be not so much terriers as poodles when it comes to Big Bizness.

If the ConDems are serious about getting the public to accept the private sector getting even more involved with the provision of services that we used to expect from the state, they'd better grip this one. I'm all for a liberal and straightforward tax regime that allows the economy to flourish, but one law for the ordinary citizen and another for Big Bizness is no way to run a country.

Well, that's me up to date.


  1. What sort of terriers do they have?

    If they're the Staffordshire Bull variety, I'll declare all my income. If they're those little yappy ones that only nip your ankles, I'm not going to tell them about the fiver my mate gave me for mowing his lawn.

  2. Definitely one of the bull terrier types. An online description seems to fit the bill perfectly: "They require a lot of attention to prevent boredom, which can lead to destructive behaviours such as chewing or digging."