In praise of the Inland Revenue

And how often do you see that phrase? I did my income tax return on Monday. Those of you who have proper jobs probably don’t have to do this, but self-employed people have to complete an income tax return every year, so I’ve been doing it – usually on August 15th, for some reason – since 2002. And I have to say that each year it has become easier and easier to do. It started with paper forms that took an age to fill in; I would set aside a day to do it. Then the online version improved the process; it corrected you as you went along, if you made any mistakes. Each year they have made some more tweaks to the forms; this year I didn’t have to give itemised expenses, but could just give my expenses as a lump. The whole thing took just over an hour – amazing! So well done to the Inland Revenue. And I have no objection to paying taxes, either – it’s the price we pay for living in a reasonably pleasant place, in my opinion.

Unexpectedly on Monday I was asked to do two pieces of work. One is still in the grant application stage, but the other one is on National Poetry Day – I’m going to be doing fun poetry sessions and a performance for 100 lawyers in a conference, in London! What fun. They sound like nice people, although there’s a long list of topics I can’t include in the poems I perform.

Just to help things along, I applied for another piece of work as a writer in residence. It took me ages to do the application, and I don’t think I’ll get the job, but I felt I had to try.

On Tuesday I had to go and talk to the building society about the best place for my little bit of savings. I like to keep this all as simple as possible, but it all seems to be complicated because accounts close, and then you have to have a new one, but you can’t take the money out of the original one without losing some… I wish they could make it as simple as the IR do.

In the evening The Bloke and I went to see Captain America. This included some very clever bits of cgi, but the whole thing failed to engage me.

Wednesday was an outdoor day, mostly. After a long phone call with the nice lady running the lawyers’ event, I undercoated and glossed bits of doorframe, treated the back lawn (no, I didn’t take it for an outing! ), cleared some weeds on a patio and put sand and cement down to seal the cracks (I wish – the ants have made holes in the filler already), and seeded a bare patch of grass. In the evening I did lots of prep.

On Thursday I went to the prison. It was the last session in a poetry course, and  the guys in my group have really excelled themselves. We planned the book of all their pieces, and now I have to put it all together. It’s a bit of a pain putting books together, but when the pieces are as good as these, it’s worth it, and people really like to have  A Book that they can call their own.

I should go running more often. I had a little run on Friday morning and this made me feel good for the whole day. Then it was off to the hospital, where I worked with one lady who doesn’t like poetry at all, and a chap who seemed overburdened by fate; and then to the last session with my nurses group. Again, we were planning a book. I’ve been working with them for over a year now, but because we just do it in their lunchtimes, our sessions have been scattered and intermittent. They were surprised to see how much they had written, and by how good it was. So – another book for me to prepare, but again one I’ll enjoy doing.

And in the afternoon I did more weeding and planting, and got my accounts up-to-date.

The weekend was all to do with clearing. I bought a little handtruck to help move heavy things; I wish I’d had one of these years ago. The Daughter came home and on Sunday we cleared out the garage – two trips to the tip and a dustbin full, plus four big things which I’ll try to get recycled. It was a dirty job, but it all looks so much better now. Who knows, one day I might even be able to get a car in there.

There’s not much earning going on with all this, though. I must find more work, or I won’t have enough to pay the tax calculated when I filled in the excellent Inland Revenue form…

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