A numbers game


Is this the most boring week of the year? Surely it must be. Despite my body’s best efforts to give me something to do, courtesy of cold numero trois (or is it quatre?), the time has dragged. Tomorrow things will brighten up again because I’m off to Lincolnshire to stay with my goddaughter. Her parents will probably be hanging about as well – Lily’s only two so she likes to keep them around to handle the catering and admin. I was there last new year’s eve and I’m hoping to make a better showing this time around. Last year I lost the run of myself and told a story so unsuitable it made a farmer choke. The girls thought it was funny but the boys went all prim, and I never really hit my stride again after that.

So, until the time comes for me to make a complete arse of myself again, I have been poddling about at home. The chesty cold was reason enough to stay put, and this week is so inherently crap I thought I might bundle all the crap together and start working on my tax return. I’m glad I did – it’s making my ears bleed. My tax affairs are pretty straightforward, especially if you take out the Cayman Island holdings, my urchin rabble of high-earning pickpockets and the silver mine in Derbyshire left me by my Somali pirate grandmother. But even so, it’s a bugger. If you haven’t filed online before, register now. They have to send you out some sort of registration code and that takes seven days.

This means I can’t file it yet, but at least I’ve worked out what I’ve ha-ha-ha earned in the last year. I knew it wasn’t great, but crikey, once you’ve chewed your pencil and actually calculated the small number of coloured buttons you have sweated to amass for the past 12 months, you might want a little lie-down. Especially at the end of a year when bonuses and pension pots and sovereign debt have become a dizzying parade of numbers like that bit in Fantasia when Mickey nicks the sorceror’s hat. Go on! Give your fevered brain over to bitter comparisons: a hedgie would probably spend that on a shooting weekend with his bell-end mates. Fred Goodwin probably spends double that at Waitrose.

I’ve got a friend who says he never talks about money because it’s vulgar. He might be right, he might not, but either way I’m not very good at bitter ruminations, or holding onto them for long anyway, because they’re pointless and boring. Cheer up, I thought, after a few minutes of baleful staring out of the window. Elizabeth Bennett would have married me for half that! And it quickly struck me that the tax man has had me on the 40% tax rate for the last year, so he’s gonna have to cough up. That’s a thought to warm the cockles, at the very least.

On the subject of numbers, why does my phone highlight the numbers, ANY numbers, expressed in a text, and ask if I want to ‘Use’ them? No, I don’t want to ‘use’ 2012. No, nor 27 neither. If I want to employ the number 2012, 27, 320 or silly sodding 14, I shall reach into my ginormous bag of numbers and, erm, use them from there. I think the phone’s gone nuts: today it asked me if I wanted to use the number 22 8 (note space). Which, in case you’re wondering, is the midsection of a postcode in East Dulwich.

That’s a safe enough anecdote for new year’s eve, isn’t it? Isn’t it? Oh God.


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