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Bill gates and other financial demands December 23, 2010

Posted by normanmonkey in Friends, Single London.
1 comment so far

In true Christmas spirit a buff envelope from Inland Revenue has arrived containing a tax demand that is enough to mull anybody’s wine. At some point when I finish swaying I’m actually going to have to contemplate paying it and not in the least bit comforted that when I do I’ll have just saved Trident.

It’s the timing that gets me. Two days before Christmas and we can only be thankful that I haven’t really started Christmas shopping or I would be in trouble.  That leaves me not much more than 24 hours to search You Tube for vintage Blue Peter clips to see what I can make from cereal cartons, yogurt pots, cigarette packets and old corks, the latter being  plenty in supply.  Improvisation will be key from here on in. They say it’s the thought that counts and on that basis I will have to say to Mother ‘I thought about getting you a nice hat and a spa break in the Cotswolds’ and leave it at that. ‘Really, there is no need to thank me. Now what time is lunch?’

Aside from that EDF have sent an external electricity bill that necessitated a check of the envelope to see if it had been intended for Las Vegas. Four figures for a pair of barely decorative electric gates? I don’t think so. Somewhere along the lines I’ve been powering West Byfleet and it’s therefore no wonder everyone else around here is full of festive cheer. They say if I don’t pay it I’ll be cut off, but ‘in this current economic climate’ (one of the most annoying diversionary euphemisms for ‘We’re all doomed!’) I hardly think vaulting an inconsiderable gate on my way to work will be much hardship. Clearly the builders of this house have something to answer for and calls will be made tomorrow.

Thank God the best things in life are free. It costs nothing to look at a Championship League table to receive the warm, buzzing glow of QPR on top of it (lets see if that lasts the Christmas period, I doubt it) or, as last night proved, a sing song round the Joanna in the Coach and Horses on Greek St.  For those who aren’t aware of the Coach, it’s interiors have barely changed since the war and neither have many of the clientele.  It was where one of England’s great writers and crafted Soho chroniclers  Jeffrey Bernard plied his trade and where he also observed the fellow bohemians, dilettantes, aristocrats, actors, artists, pimps, gamblers, low lifes and high-flyers congregate in the pursuit of good, dubious company and conversation. Until five or six years ago when the place was still managed by Norman Balon, also an ever-present since the 1940’s (a period to whom his interpretation of customer service was also indebted) you could still get an, albeit austere, ham sandwich for a pound – and that was the one and only concession to catering.

Much of that has changed and belongs to an old Soho that was swept away when Soho became the hub of advertising agencies, but it’s still a refuge from the bright lights and ponces across the road in Soho House with their bucks fizz, iPads, fennel, celebrity tittle-tattle and deal breaking conversation. The Coach, meanwhile, has an old man in a trilby next to the piano playing the spoons and Dan Turner, Robbie and I knew where we were much happier to end up.

Not that we should’ve been there at all. We’d gone into the West End on the pretense of doing post-work Christmas shopping but even the thought of Selfridges saw a collective furrowing of brows and us head for the nearest bar.

There was also the matter I had a woman who with all the best intentions invited me over to her new house for a romantic dinner. Two hours later than my planned arrival she received a phone call suggesting she ‘Get on a train and come over to the Coach and Horses’  because, as I ventured in my pitch, ‘There’s a man at the piano, we’ve got percussive coconuts and we’re singing Frosty the Snowman’. For reasons those of you whom may understand the fairer sex than I, this was met with a prolonged silence and punctuated by a curt ‘Right’. In one breath things had moved rapidly on from Frosty the Snowman to frosty reception.

For once I read the runes and given some pause for thought replied, ‘I’ll get a taxi right now’ and made the right decision. Even in this ‘current economic climate’ I can still make the right decisions every so often and there will probably be a tax demand in the post for that as well. Merry Christmas.