This week I am mostly … wittering

So a quiet one this week. I’ve been trying to finish off some of the admin. I’m getting there but rather slowly. Big pluses this week, I have done my tax return! Woot. It’s always a weight off when I finish that. It was made easier this year by the fact I started getting the information together a while back and so I’d collated the various bits of paper I need.

The hardest thing is that originally, when I did my tax, I would have a four page short form which I’d fill out and send in. I just declared how much I’d earned, how much I’d spent and then any income from bank accounts and shares. Now that I do an online return, I have to fill in the long tax form, which appears to be written in a cross between legalese and accountant speak. Jeepers. Even the simple stuff is complicated. Where it was profits, turnover and loss it’s now turnover and ‘allowed expenses’.

Expenses used to be extra things you could claim, for example if you bought a computer you could spread the cost as a loss over three years and that was a business expense.

Now, I don’t actually know if the ‘expenses’ it’s talking about are business expenses, or the day-to-day costs of running the business. I’m allowed legal fees and accountancy fees but is paying my cover designer an ‘allowed expense’? I dunno. Everything is so much more complicated. Thank you, Gordon Brown, for mushrooming the amount of tax law from one weighty tome to an entire fucking truckload of weighty tomes.


Onwards and upwards.

As a person with discalculia, numbers are extremely difficult for me. We are talking wading miles up to your neck in treacle. Weirdly, I actually have some scientific and mathematical pragmatism and logic but numbers themselves are grey and amorphous. There is nothing to cling onto. I get zero intellectual traction.

Words are like bright sparks, glittering and zipping down my neural pathways at the speed of light. I can feel the tiny nuances in meaning between them. Words are sparkling, and razor sharp and glittery and accurate. Numbers are grey and insubstantial with nothing to hold onto, or they are cloying and impenetrable, like slime; thick grey slime. Words … if I hear a word for the first time in my own language, I know instinctively what it means. Numbers are drab and faceless, the dementors of my intelligence, their meanings unknown to me, their messages scrambled or parsed in a code to which I have no key. They’re like a foreign language but there is no dictionary and I lack the intellectual capacity to discern them without one.

It’s important that I take numbers very slowly, to the point where it might be close to retardation. My mind and thought processes are usually quite quick, so my incapacity it makes me feel very stupid. It would be good to be bright and not … stupid. No wonder so many of us dyslexics are chippy about our intelligence.

Put that next to the knowledge that, if I get this wrong, I’ll go to prison and obviously it’s a recipe for a neurotic hissy fit and stress fest!

Seriously though, I go through these pages and pages of questions just thinking, I have no idea what this means, I’ll leave it blank. Although I reckon if they are questions I can’t begin to comprehend, they’re probably not asking something that applies to me. Gulp.

One particular joy is that we have to declare all our foreign earnings. We have some foreign unit trusts or something and I have to declare the few quid a year I earn which are ploughed back into them. I suspect individuals such as myself are not the type of people for which this section was added. I have also told myself that I will definitely, definitely file the current year’s return as soon after 6th April as I can. Except that was what I vowed last year and here I am, filing it in during January when the do by date is 31st … then again, they’ve extended it to Feb so in theory I’m a month early. Ooo now there’s a result.

Obviously, once I have got used to it, I can fill it in much faster and I’m much more confident. However, they rephrase all the questions and change the entire form EVERY. FUCKING. YEAR. Ugh.

Next up on the admin list is to try and confirm when Mum last did a tax return. I have a vague clue but not a massive one although I think I’m homing in on that gradually. We have to dispose of Mum’s stocks and shares now because there aren’t enough of them for it to be a sound investment strategy. The balance will go into a high interest account and fund her care while we arrange to borrow a yearly sum for care fees against the house. In the UK healthcare is free unless you have dementia, in which case, you have to bankrupt yourself. When you get down to your last £23k, except it’s not really £23k it’s actually £14k, the local authority will step in to help rather than the NHS. If you’re lucky, you may end up in a decent care home. If you live in an area where there are more demented people than care home places then it’s either up to your relatives to look after you, or if they are busy doing things like jobs to pay their rent and feed their families, you get four twenty minute visits a day to serve you meals and help you dress and undress.

Mum’s local authority are very good. They were great with Dad, but even so … I hope the house is worth enough to last her out.

I was thinking about dementia, obviously, with the life I live (Thanks God, you utter, utter git.) I think about dementia quite a lot. Mum’s is different from Dad’s. Well obviously because Mum is different from Dad. That’s the thing of course, every individual is different so each person’s dementia attacks them in a different way. I guess there are general pointers which allow folks who know what they are doing to work out exactly what stage the person with dementia is at. It’s handy to have a handle on that when it comes to planning care and anticipating whether to ease off or step it up.

My grandmother ended up lying in bed for a year. She was totally unresponsive and Mum said that she used to go visit once a week. She’d just sit there holding her mother’s hand and cry. Apparently the sister in the home was lovely and used to tell Mum that it was alright and reassure her that my grandmother was different – in a good way – after her visits.

I could see Mum going that way, herself. If she did, I’m not so sure I’d mind so much. Surely it’d be better than the torment Dad endured on his darker days, wouldn’t it? I’d read to her I think. Whodunnits, or books that I knew she’d enjoyed like the Children of the New Forest, and Ballet Shoes. Or the Romany books.

On a happier note. My cousin came over this week and we took Mum out to lunch at the pub round the corner. She wasn’t in the best of form but the visit went well and my cousin had some prints of the school I grew up in which she offered to my brother and I, but I don’t think he was interested, which was handy as I’m very pleased with them.

Said cousin also kindly gave me a print of a portrait of my … I dunno how many times great grandfather who started a newspaper called Bell’s Weekly messenger. See picture. He looks worryingly like Fraser from Dad’s Army. I believe he’s responsible for initiating the use of the double s—before that they used an f. But that might have been his father. I get muddled because there were two John Bells in a row.

Even though he is wearing the most magnificent Dickensian coat—of which I am extremely jealous—I am fully expecting him to step out of the print and tell me I’m doomed.

Extra bonus content was a book of poetry by my great grandmother which I think might be termed as ‘sentimental’. It’s sort of good and also sort of hilarious, bless her. She clearly travelled to India and Kashmir and found it hauntingly beautiful. I can’t wait to show it to my Aunt, who grew up in India. I think she might appreciate the descriptions and find the sentimentality as amusing as I do, but at the same time, I think I could get away with us having a giggle about it without being disloyal.

I was going out to the theatre yesterday evening so McOther and I decided to have our big meal midday and we went out to lunch to a noodle bar in town.

What is it with people, though? We arrived early and there were only a couple of diners in there, one sitting at a table one side, by the window, the others sitting about ten feet away, at a table that was also by the window but on the other side. We sat further in, near the wall.

While we were there, four more groups came in to eat. One sat on the table right behind me, although that was still a good three feet away from ours. Another sat at the table right behind McOther which was also three or four feet away. Neither was too close but, at the same time, they could have sat a bit further away.

Finally, as we were just finishing our plates of noodles, and enormous Dodge Ram wanker-tanker pulled up outside. It backed up, parking across the drive of the house next door and a family got out. It looked like husband and wife with granny and young daughter. They were all quite big, which, presumably is why the four of them had to arrive a vehicle about the same size as some of the smaller-sized buses operating in the UK — although it probably does fewer miles to the gallon.

The presence of the daughter, who could have been anywhere between about four and seven, was notable, in that she should have been in school unless she’d had special dispensation, or was unwell. She proceeded to demonstrate that she was, indeed, unwell by producing a wracking cough, you know, the sort of thing you usually hear from people who have spent the last 40 years smoking sixty a day.

Clearly the little girl was off school, recovering from a chest infection, or possibly, judging by the sound of her cough, pneumonia.

There’s no way the kid had the Rona, nobody would be that thoughtless, but in these dodgy times, someone who is clearly off school sick, coughing as if they are suffering from TB is always going to be a bit disconcerting. Bearing that in mind, when it’s me, I will always be a bit embarrassed about it and sit a long way from anyone else, I was kind of expecting them to choose one of the empty tables away from other diners.

Maybe they’d had it up to their eyeballs with people looking askance at their coughing kid, I dunno. But they came over as very concerned that they should be allowed to exercise their own freedoms and rights but at the same time, not remotely bothered if exercising their rights and freedoms came at the expense of other people’s — parking across someone’s drive because it wasn’t illegal and nothing said they couldn’t, for example.

The restaurant contained about ten or fifteen empty tables. Including the other half of ours. Our table was the end of a table for six, comprising a four seater and a two seater, and it had been turned into a two seater by being pulled about six inches away from the other one.

Did the new arrivals go for the social distancing option and choose one of the empty tables that were a decent distance away?


Of course they fucking didn’t.

They came and sat next to us. On the four person bit of our six person table. Right hugga-mugga pretty much on top of us. The daughter barking like a sea lion all the while as they took their places. I was fully expecting to see the poor kid’s lungs land in her noodles.

Not that we stayed that long. We made a very, very swift exit. But instead of enjoying the rest of our noodles and then sitting for a bit with our cups of jasmin tea, we shovelled them in as fast as we could, knocked the tea back and legged it for the door.

To be honest, these folks were clearly completely oblivious. The kid probably just had asthma. The hospital’s not far away, maybe she’d just been seeing the specialist, who know. I’m not blaming them. Folks pull this shit all the time.

However, it did get me wondering why we are such herd animals. It’s a bit like that thing when you park in an empty car park and return to your car to find that there are now two cars parked in the car park, and the other is next to yours, and parked so close that you can’t open the fucking door to get in. What is it about we humans that means we have to all huddle together in a crowd? To the point where it’s bloody irritating.

Why, in a restaurant with about seventy covers, did three quarters of the diners decide to huddle in a close knit group round our table? I have no clue. I am always one to find an empty space, if only so we can relax and converse unheard. The rest of them? It’s like they wanted us to listen.

Finally to round off the week, the theatre performance I went to was Jenny Eclair’s new show, Sixty FFS which was hilarious. I bought the last two tickets in the house for a friend and myself, in separate boxes one each side of the theatre. Then the booking office rang us and asked if they could change the tickets so we were in the same box, which was ace.

Jenny was absolutely as funny and as outrageous as I expected. She was particularly funny about post operation constipation – which is a factor of the painkillers (for more on that story, go here). She was also very funny about Nordic walking poles – we all end up using them because we’re arthritic – and she showed off her gilet ‘I bought it in yellow to go with my teeth.’

If it’s on near you and there are any tickets left. Go! It’s hilarious.

Oh and I’ve even done a bit of work on Misfit 5. Woot.

All in all, then, a moderately successful week.

And now for something completely different.

As per last week, another quick reminder about freebies and cheapies available from my fabulous portfolio of literature.

The Christmas story is still up for grabs, also, the audiobook versions of Few Are Chosen and Small Beginnings are down to 99c on Apple, Chirp, Kobo and my own Store. To find an information page, with links to buy, or to download The Christmas One, just click on one of these links:

Few Are Chosen (remember it’s Kobo, My Store, Chirp and Apple the other stores still have it at£7.99)

Small Beginnings (this one is free on my store but 99c/99p on Kobo, Chirp and Apple.

The Christmas One This one’s an ebook, obviously. Gareth is currently performing in Worms (snortle) but there is an audiobook scheduled for late February.

Shows the cover of The Last Word

The Last Word


Filed under General Wittering

17 responses to “This week I am mostly … wittering

  1. Hi MTM
    Re the numbers. I’m dyslexic but I find numbers are fuzzy and stick together randomly, making log-jams, so if I hold three in my head the others cannot come in or go out. Words are slippery and slide easily in and out of grasp, but they often produce natural chains which look effective but sometimes just don’t make sense.

    I know what you mean about social distancing. I can only assume that everybody’s idea of the correct distance is different.

    Male urinal selection is a fascinating area of study (although tricky in some respects if you are or are not male). Basically new arrivals go first to the third from the left hand end, (ignore any that are at right angles on the left). The next occupy the middle and after that fill alternating spaces. Finally filling the other alternated spaces and the left wall, but if it’s a bit crowded then select the far right end of the right hand wall. All is done in complete silence, even farting is disapproved. Males under three feet tall are studiously ignored but avoided as are the halt, lame, blind and drunk whether horizontal or vertical. You could (well I could) come in on fire in an electric wheelchair dressed as Tony the tiger and nothing would be said. Those who know the place are always very helpful but directions are given by pointing (with hands) Everybody reads any and all notices and there are no sudden movements or changes of direction although rotation with a vertical axis is acceptable. The majority wear masks but if there is a minority who do or don’t then the majority will track the minority with one eye. It’s all a bit like walking and then driving, you suddenly adopt entirely different actions, rules and methods for moving around, which to the uninitiated is completely incomprehensible.

    I think the thing about taxes is that the collectors are part of a bureaucracy which has two objectives. The first is to build a(n) hierarchy under each individual. That way the individual earns more and gains ‘worth’. The second is to complicate matters so that the subordinates are kept busy. (Money is relevant but about 8th on the list). The date that a notice used to be important when there were pounds, shillings and pence because then it could be randomly added to or subtracted from the total owing or owed. Now only the day and month are used as the year is often disputed, and adding the National insurance number is now favoured.
    best regards

    • Love the urinals protocol! That made me laugh a lot! And yes, good to know I’m not alone with the figures thing and sympathy dealing with it in words too. BTW farting in the ladies is frowned upon too.

    • Diana

      englishjim — That urinal information is very informative — and decidedly amusing in parts. I particularly like the combination of fire, Tony the Tiger, and a wheelchair. For some reason, I imagined Tony dressed in a madly coloured Hawaiian shirt. I am not a connoiseur of men’s urinals — so am somewhat startled by what sounds like a very large place — with lots of choice. I suspect that these are in places where large numbers of people gather? The only men’s rooms I’ve ever had the opportunity to enter are small one-man (or two, max) offerings in places where young children might need checking on (for making an unexpectedly long visit) or lights have to be turned off when it’s time to close and lock the church/office/classroom, etc.

      Great details 🙂

      • Most applicable to large motorway service stations, but scaleable up to the point where the designated urinal is too far away to walk to before it’s too late.

      • Diana

        I don’t think any of the service stations in my part of the world have large washroom facilities — in my experience, they are most often generic (ie one, complete with a toilet and no urinal) in smaller stations, and in larger stations might have two toilet stalls in the women’s, and maybe two urinals and a stall in the men’s? (Just guessing on the latter, since I’ve never poked my head into a men’s unless the women’s is out of commission — and I have been unimpressed with size, and sometimes cleanliness, in any.) Mind you, things might be different in the more-heavily populated eastern parts of the country.
        I am now curious and will ask a brother….

  2. That sounds like a horrible restaurant experience. And I have always wondered that, why do people want to be so close to each other. That is one good thing, actually there are two good things, which have come out of the pandemic. Social distancing, and not having to feel like you have to hug people – I hate hugging people – 6 feet is a good distance for me. The other thing is the stores instituting the curbside pick-up. I love that – there is no need for interacting with people, no need to go into stores, best idea ever. Order online, drive up, they dump the stuff in your car and off you go. I haven’t entered a store in months. I hope they don’t take that away when the pandemic is over.

    • It’s weird isn’t it? I do like hugs but only with friends I am comfortable hugging. Usually I like an exclusion zone of several feet around me! I quite liked shopping in lockdown when hardly anyone was in there and you could wander around and get stuff unmolested by other humans! Mwahahahrgh. Not that I’m a curmudgeon or anything.

  3. Well, at least your tax is done. You don’t have to worry about it for a while. That’s always a plus.

    Re: dementia. It’s a nasty disease. Mother had it, Daddy didn’t. I hope I have Daddy’s genes. I have his teeth. Before that, I’m worried about ordinary care when I need help. I keep telling myself I need to write it down – How to Take Care of Alicia – so they know what I want now, and think I will want then, and don’t have to guess.


  4. I got my tax return done about a week earlier (probably the latest I’ve ever done it). I get regular emails from the tax people to help self-employed people work out how to handle things like computers. And you can always phone your local tax office to check something (better if you don’t leave that till January). I don’t have a turnover over £1000 so I don’t have to put the detailed expenses in any more. And of course paying your cover designer is a legitimate expense! How else are you going to provide your products?

    Sign up for helpful (they are!) emails

    I’ve already deleted the one dealing with capital allowances, but they did a whole series of webinars on the=ese things in the autumn. Try the HMRC YouTube listing at

    And you’re not alone. email me if you want to know what I’ve done 🙂 (not a financial adviser)

    • Bless you, yes, I used the videos and there’s a youtube channel which is really good. They are excellent. I just have to not panic and take it slowly but it does freak me out. They didn’t answer the expenses question but I decided to do it as bog standard expenses rather than tax deductible ones. I do have enough turnover to put in the figures but only just!

  5. Diana

    Taxes: Your taxes are due in January? Does the year cover January to December — and you manage to get all the paperwork together before the end of January? Wow! Here we have til the end of February to accumulate things (like RRSP’s — registered retirement savings plans) that will give us deductibles for the previous year — so our taxes aren’t due until the end of April. Mind you, these are personal taxes. I have no idea at all about Business ones.

    Congratulations on getting yours done!

    As for the dementia thing — I think you and your brother have been making some good decisions. May you NOT inherit this. I am praying that I don’t either — although I do take after my mom in many things, and she was one of the three in her generation (of 6 in total) who developed dementia. I sometimes wonder about getting genetic testing done, but since only a very small percentage of cases are genetic, it wouldn’t really help. The “treatment” is the same — lifestyle choices make the biggest difference apparently.
    And some of these I am getting better at, and others not so much.

    I really like Alicia’s suggestion of writing your own care plan. And I would include music — both what you LOVE to listen to, and what you Hate to listen to, as well as how much music and how much silence you would like. I suspect, based on what I’ve seen online, that the amount of music I might like if I develop dementia might be more than what I like right now — only because people seem to come alive more when the music is played than they do when sitting in silence. There might well be something else going on in the brain that is not pleasant that the music supercedes. But that is only my theory.

    May none of us have to find out if it’s true ….

    • Our taxi here runs from April the 6th to April the 5th and our tax returns are due on paper at the end of following October and on line at the end of the following January.

      Yes, re the the care plan. I’m already thinking about it. And back at you on the inheriting this stuff. 🧡

      • Diana

        please clarify — do you have to do taxes on paper AND electronically?
        What kind of evil is that?

      • Ah no. It used to be that you did them on paper and then they’ve been trying to get everyone to go over to doing them online. However, not everyone has an internet connection and so they are still letting people hand them in by post on paper. Sadly I was too late to do that one year so I had to do it online and I think once you’ve done that you can’t go back. Although, to be honest, it’s quite good in some ways because I can fill in bits and then save them so I don’t have that thing where I’ve done the calculations and I look at them and I don’t understand what I’ve done and have to do them again to be sure that I got them right.

      • Diana

        thanks for letting me know I am not alone. When I did my paper ones I was constantly checking and rechecking.

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