In January, right on the button, the tax man cometh. Then the sky turns grey and remains grey for, oh, around a year or so. That's not strictly true, about the grey I mean, although the predominant colour of Glasgow skies is certainly not blue. I resent the grey less in the winter. It's the grey summer skies that drive me nuts. I always, however, resent the taxman because he takes such a huge slice and spends it so badly. I've never quite got my head round the cheerful adage 'the more tax you pay, the more you must have earned' because it never quite feels like that. The twice yearly tax punch is the curse of the self-employed, and the taxman takes particular delight in hammering you at the times of maximum financial horror: Christmas (sometimes the demand comes on Christmas Eve - why doesn't he just give it to Father Christmas to stick in the stocking and save the postage) and July, to make sure that you feel a little sick at the start of any holiday. On bad days, I'd like to be a taxman. You can make people feel terrible with just the flick of a pen, or the jokey placing (must be a joke, surely) of a decimal dot. That's power.
I had no intention of having time off from writing this Christmas but that's what has happened. All the stuff going on when everybody is at home, plus the boxed set of the first series of the Sopranos and an abundance of chocolates has been too much of a distraction. We love boxed sets in our house. We've done Brideshead (to death), and adored the West Wing. The Sopranos has taken more getting into and my husband hasn't caught the bug. The rest of us watch it, sometimes with our eyes closed. One question. Why don't they wear gloves when they're killing people? When Tony garrottes the Grass after dropping his daughter at her college interview, he does it with his bare hands. I'd have thought an endless supply of leather gloves was an essential mob tool. I'm surprised they don't own a glove factory.
We also tried 24. People rave about it, but we found it too contrived and cliched. Didn't much care for any of the characters. I'll probably finish the first series, but want to ask anybody out there if it gets better?
I'm desperate to get back onto my Perfect Fire roll, the one that I surfed through December, but getting back into the 13th century is a bit like jumping into the sea again when you've been out for a bit. You've got to grit your teeth, gather your courage and just go go go. Oh, but it's a bit cold, and then there are a few chocolates left, and perhaps just one more Sopranos ...
Onwards and upwards.
Happy New Year!