Well I have spent more time than seems reasonable trying to contact the Inland Revenue today.
Having experienced such spectacular lack of success trying to contact them by phone and as they hadn’t answered my letter, I walked the mile-and-a-half down the hill to the sea to their office in Ocean House to speak to the Sheriff of Nottingham in person.
The receptionist at Ocean House said I couldn’t do that because it was neither Wednesday nor Friday. So I went home and called them on the phone again, this time getting through.
And when I made this phone call I had cause to bless God for our tenant Tracey who lived with us in our home in Aylesbury for a while.
There were many good things about Tracey, but the one that I have carried with me down the track long after our ways parted was something she taught me about phoning faceless organisations. I don’t know if this works in the US.
Tracey (a social worker who knew all about faceless organisations) told me that when you have to phone a F.O., if the robot answering the phone starts a spiel giving you “press this, press that” options, you can cut the whole rigmarole short by repeatedly pressing zero.
Last week when I phoned the Revenue, I had to sit through an extended yadayada about all kinds of things from a robot before they bounced me offline.
So today when I called them and the robot picked up, as soon as she launched into her speech I pressed 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
There was a silence.
Then she said: “Okay. Please hold while you are connected to an operator.”
There. Isn’t that a secret worth knowing?
I spoke to Ian, a reasonable kind of Yorkshireman who agreed that yes indeed I had paid my taxes, and consented to pass on to the Faceless Bureaucrats my opinion that sending letters threatening bailiffs and unlimited fines might not be the wisest manner of opening a correspondence.
Ian thought that if enough of us expressed this opinion – and he said I was not the first – the Revenue might even deem it churlish not to consider modifying its tone.
(if you don’t know what I’m talking about, see here)
For some reason we had a chronic scissor shortage in the family where I grew up.
We had an ancient pair of kitchen scissors, completely blunt and somewhat given to coming apart. I believe my mother had some nail scissors. Later, during my teens, she acquired a pair of scissors with massive handles and teeny blades that she thought looked elegant, and had a large ball of string to go with them. That was it.
I used the power of adulthood to equip myself more effectively in this area.
Recently it got beyond a joke. I had two pairs of nail scissors, two pairs of craft scissors, the five pairs of scissors that came free with the sewing machine, three pairs of kitchen scissors, plus the Badger had two pairs of scissors on his desk.
The ropier of the kitchen scissors were despatched to the Shed to become garden twine cutting implements. The sewing scissors have gone to the sewing station, leaving one pair behind in the Garret to be General Scissors. One of my pairs of nail scissors fell in half and I binned it.
This pair of craft scissors went with one of the children’s craft kits I made up for Freecycle.
We have to get over these areas of childhood deprivation somehow, don’t we; even in matters that cut as deeply as scissors.