Tag Archives: tax

…In Which Raconteur Skills Abandon the Ageing Lothario

The man sitting next to me is on a date. I know this by the way he answers his phone. He has that higher-pitched air of non-threatening concern so essential in the initial wooing process  (You know, the one that gets abandoned forever after a few weeks)…

‘That’s alright. I was a little late myself…No, it’s the independent one next to Starbucks… OK, see you in a few minutes.’

His date arrives and greets him with a warm smile. The man, eager to impress, steps up to the plate and unleashes the conversational mother-load: ‘Sorry for the terrible directions. Maybe we should have just met at Starbucks…but…I like to drink in places where they pay their tax.’

Even the delivery is a little strange – Kind of passive aggressive – Like: Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.

‘Oh,’ the woman replies, a little taken-aback. ‘Well, it’s a nice choice.’

‘Yeah…lots of companies seeking to avoid…tax…at the moment…there’s…’

He glances around the room in desperation. Our eyes lock and we share a telepathic moment.

Help me brother!

Hey man – You did this to you – Pull your shit together.

‘Facebook…and…’

‘I think maybe some of the banks,’ his date tries to assist.

‘Yes, probably – goodgood

I hate to see brethren stumble, but what am I supposed to do? Lean across and say: Tell her she looks great you douche? And besides, my date has just arrives and so I’m like: Watch and learn my young apprentice. Listen to the Surgical Sensei work his lyrical mastery…

…And within less than a minute we’re talking about Supply-Chain-Management.

How the hell did this happen?

I fall back on my training. It tells my to show interest and ask questions, so I dredge up: ‘What’s the best supply chain you’ve ever managed?’ Her face relays so many complex messages – a mixture of I’m sorry for bringing this up / Stop asking questions / You’re only making it worse, whilst also answering the question (Multi-tasking! Women are amazing!)

Over on the next table the other guy’s date is performing the coup de grace. ‘I think maybe Google don’t pay tax as well?’ They leave soon afterwards. I appreciate their honesty (put it down to experience and move on).

But I’m still there, trapped in a rictus. I don’t think it’s the women’s fault or mine – Nothing in common – that’s all. Time and time again I’m bottling lightning and laughing at my own jokes (always a good sign), but no amount of electricity can reanimate a corpse.

Forty minutes in fate cocks the weapon and places it against my temple.

A comment about TV prompts her to say ‘I’ve just finished watching the Nordic crime drama – ‘The Killing.”

‘What a coincidence – I also enjoy killing…’

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A look beyond the veil…

…Somewhere within these few lines and verses is the meaning of life. Of this I am certain, although at present I am at a loss to extract the distilled nectar…

I was heading into town on foot with a list of largely mundane things to do. My mind had wandered…I need to hire an accountant to do my tax returns

I passed under a railway bridge and did an awkward shimmy to avoid a woman approaching in the opposite direction.

…Really? This is what you’re going to spend your Sunday thinking about? I harnessed a phrase so often used on other men in their late thirties whenever the subject of rising house prices rears its inevitable head: We used to talk about girls.

My rumination was disturbed by a loud screeching noise. I looked up and saw that a flat bed lorry containing a large (and full) skip was skidding and jack-knifing all over the road. In a flash I saw that its next arc would bring it round to bear on the woman and myself, crashing through the flimsy fence that separated us. My mind took in other snapshots – the curved wall of the tunnel – no escape – the expression on the driver’s face – a rictus of panic.

I am going to die – the thought as clear as day – A weight like that would pulverise me. I probably wouldn’t even feel it. No time for…Cars on either side of the road shrieking to a halt – petrol fumes – adrenaline coursing – the woman’s arm shooting out, almost grasping mine…

…And then, somehow, the driver regained control of the vehicle. He glanced down at me from the cab and shouted something. I only caught the last word ‘….reprieve!’ His face was a swirl of nervous energy – the relief and mania of not having turned his lorry into a murderous juggernaut, and then he was gone.

In the dim light of the tunnel the woman and I exchanged exhalations. I momentarily entertained the idea of speaking (we almost…we should go for a drink – maybe get married). The moment passed. I offered a smile, which was reciprocated, and then we went in our separate directions.

What now? I couldn’t just go and buy bin liners and washing up liquid as had been the plan – Oh no – I had been spared for higher office (or something). Something profound had just happened, and yet at the same time, nothing at all had happened.

The first thing I saw when I got into town was a coffeehouse I’d been boycotting on account of their exorbitant prices. Well stuff that now, I thought, I’m on bonus time. Bring me the baddest brew you’ve got and here’s all my money. Several glorious infusions later I found my calling – I was to pamper myself rotten. I bought the ingredients for an epic meal, a good bottle of plonk and a hillock of cake (to use the collective term).

Back at home I visited the bathroom and regarded its porcelain namesake (Who the hell has time to draw a bath in this day and age?) Me, that’s who! – piping hot, bubble bath – I only wish I’d had rose petals on hand and a Celine Dion compilation.

Well that was mind-blowing, I self-congratulated as I emerged from a miasma of steam to discover that I had no clean underwear (the result of a recent road-trip). Commando it is then! A pair of trackie-bottoms were on hand – crisis averted!

With a meal of heroes in my belly I stepped out into the garden to enjoy the summer sunshine. The lawn was looking a little unkempt so I decided to mow it – Find an album you’ve not listened to in a while, stick on some headphones – mooch around in the warm rays – perfect.

I set to work, thinking all the while about what had happened earlier that day. Worshipping at the church of self was all well and good for an hour or so, but surely something worthier needed to emerge as a result of so spectacular a reminder that life is fragile and fleeting?

Maybe, but not right now. Right now I had great food, great tunes, I was out in the sunshine. It didn’t have to be profound. This is good, I thought, this is being alive.

Something moved in my peripheral vision. I looked up and there at the gate stood an old woman. By ‘old’ I mean ‘at least eighty.’ She was waving and mouthing something at me. I let go of the mower’s trigger and took off the headphones.

‘What was that?’

‘Nice cock,’ she said – brazen as you like with a wry little smile.

‘…pardon?’

‘…Nice cock.’

I looked down and saw that the mower was obscuring my pelvic region from view.

‘How would you know?’

‘Oh, I’ve been standing here for quite some time.’

And with a wink and what can only be described as an incredibly leisurely pace she went about her business…

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