Thursday, 6 March 2008

The tax inspector

At 9.30 this morning it's All Systems Go. Besieging the office since 6am, Dig has undermined a two foot high layer of paper and made a tunnel to the kitchen table, where the tax officer will sit. In this military strike, he has also engaged in a spot of propaganda, draping a tea towel over the big box, marked in black unmovable marker pen, VAT. It's stuffed full of unopened envelopes. If this were not enough to establish some sort of central command, he's found a child's chair which he has wiped clean from strawberry jam, wedged it under the table, and turned on Ride of the Valkyries. Obviously we are out to take control.

But I'm struggling. I cannot bring myself to force up a nice and smiley smile to a tax inspector. I simply can't. I'm choking in the gullet. Apparently, she says, arriving, dressed in grey, and jollying us along, someone somewhere deemed us 'high risk' because Dig works a lot overseas. That puts us 'off the scope'. Code: tax evasion.

Oh. Is that what it is? Is that what I am engaged in then? Fumbling on with Dig in India, or China, or wherever, with triplets in hot pursuit around the house, screaming? I didn't know tax evasion looked like that. I thought tax evasion looked like a swimming pool in Monaco and a diamond called a corporate asset. I didn't know tax evasions also came with a sink full of cold washing up, this morning's strangled unicorn swinging from the banisters on a length of pink embroidery thread, and an afternoon fight over the video box of Mary Poppins.

Mrs VAT continues, airily. She says she does her best to make everyone feel happy. Happy. Should I sing 'Oh joy! The tax inspector is here! Tralala! Let's skip! Let's wear the antler horns for spring!' She starts to josh about Tesco and bottles of milk as Dig sits her down. We don't offer a drink. And I'm still not laughing. This woman has the power to trash our business, remove all our savings and take us to court.

Once sat down, the jokes are clearly a front. She's in quick enough now, asking for invoices and accounts, posing some pretty sharp questions about our practices. It's like being interviewed by Mr Welding, head of fifth year. They behave all 'I'm really on your side'; it's just their fingers are tapping on the school exclusion forms.

After an hour, Mrs VAT gets up and says she cannot understand it, why she's been called. It looks like everything's in order, she says, and we probably won't be seeing her again because she's waiting to retire. Looking back at the chair, she says she can see it's a business where we're working at home and doing the relevant paperwork, and that all the payments seem prompt, considering.

And as she collects her bag, paper, spectacles, I feel a slight alarm. Because at this point of departure, she might want to use the toilet. Now. I'm not a spiteful person. But I have a mean streak. Definitely.

Just before she arrived, I went to clean the toilet. I could not find the brush. Where has the brush gone? Who stole the brush? I check the children's rooms. They might have misguided themselves into a spot of experimental Hockney-style pool painting with Harpic. Nope. Just the normal mess. Then I check Dig's areas. Sadly, not with fetish, but forgetfulness, he'll possess remote controls, favourite pens, household items. But then I've never known him do housework. Or ever hold a toilet brush.

Defeated, I abandon the enterprise. And then, to add to any distress a much-used toilet in a house of children may bring about to an elderly tax inspector, probably with delicate sensibilities and a weak bladder, I place an old toothbrush on the lid.

And then I hide the toilet roll.

And now I think, just as I become aware that the threat of prosecution has subsided, I think, please don't say, please don't ask, 'Can I pop to your toilet?'


Brad said...

I hate the false casual front of people who hold power over me. I'd rather just get on with it. Stop wasting my time.

Glad it all worked out in the end.

HelenHaricot said...

well, i will keep my fingers firmly crossed that she means that and there will be no more hassle

Michelle said...

ooh. Jolly good. You can respond to my email now. x

Brad said...

Grit, Please stop by my site when you have time. I think it will put a smile on your face.

Kelly Jene said...

Hi! Popping over from Brad's blog. What a stressful nightmare that must have been. Oy! I hope this was the end of it.

By the way, I'm home schooling my two boys, (7 & 11), gotta say Bravo to you for schooling triplets! What an adventure that must, through the good and bad times.

dragon boy said...

hahaha, you are sooo funny, am I the only one that thinks that?!?!?! so glad you're back.

Potty Mummy said...

Hi Grit, just thought I'ld pop by after your visit and I have only one question. How the hell do you find time to write (so well) with 3kids at home ALL THE TIME? (And can I add you to my blog roll please?)

grit said...

hi folks, thank you for your kind wishes; Mrs VAT is one more hurdle we just got over... breathe ... now for the next.

i am discovering some very funny blogs out there, and as i have finally discovered how to blog roll, can add a few more (it only took 14 months to work it out and an hour to put up 7)... do i have to ask? have i a broken a blog honour code?

and potty mummy, i'm really not sure how i find the time. it started as therapy and now is necessity. but i don't watch any tv that the kids don't watch (i have a prime suspect on dvd still to watch from 2004) and the house is a tip. and thank you; it would be an honour to be rolled on your blog!

Elizabeth said...

Did you ever find the toilet brush?

grit said...

no. i have not checked the garden. that's where i found all my sandwich box lids.

Brad said...

I linked you without asking, maybe some find it forward but I say linking to someones blog that you like is an honor.
Now we just have to get you over that html linking to your sidebar hump so you can go collect Trevor's award. It is really easy, take Trev up on his offer of help. Or I can walk you through it.