I’m in the throes of that dreaded annual ordeal: the tax return. For some reason (best known to probably not very many people at all), CofE ministers seem to be regarded for tax purposes as self-employed (I suppose the thinking was that you can’t easily send an employer’s tax submission form to the Ancient of Days). As a result, we have to deal with all the claims and counter-claims ourselves. Fortunately, there are people around who have spotted the gap in the market and are dedicated full-time to making this marginally less daunting. I’ve my appointment next week. Hence the frenzied number-crunching and paper-clip management.

But I came across this poem in my favourite respite from duties and traumas, The Funny Side. Written by Hugo Williams, I suspect many of you will relate to it in just the same way that I did.

Desk Duty

Hugo Williams

My desk has brought me
all my worst fears on a big tray
and left it across my lap.
I’m not allowed to move until I have
eaten everything up.
I push things around on my plate.
I kick the heating pipes.

A piece of worn carpet on the floor
proves how long I’ve been sitting here
shuffling my feet,
opening and closing drawers,
looking for something I’ve lost
under piles of official papers and threats,
roofing grants and housing benefits.

Am I married or single?
Employed or self-employed?
What sort of work do I do?
Is my house being used for business
or entertainment purposes? (See Note 3)
If I am resident at my place of work,
who supplies the furniture?

I have cause to suspect myself
of deliberately wasting time
writing my name and place of birth
under ‘Who else lives with you?’
It has taken me all day
to find something true to write
under ‘Personal Allowances’ – or not untrue.

I know all about my little game
of declaring more than I earn
to the Inland Revenue – or was it less?
I’m guilty as hell,
or I wouldn’t be sitting her like this
playing footy-footy with my desk.
I’d be upstairs in bed with my bed.

(From The Funny Side, p57)

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Marcus

    Oh yes! Traumatic horror. Not that there aren’t some tax advantages, but the whole process of claiming them is so tortuous that they aren’t worth the years of your life you waste claiming them…


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