2010 — 4 September: Saturday

A mere placeholder as I've suddenly realised how late it is. I've been unpacking and sorting out the first six cartons and have managed to discard1 depressingly little. Grrr.

Carol's just told me there was a big earthquake near Christchurch (NZ) — although Big Bro and his family moved away from there quite a few years ago I don't doubt they still know plenty of people down there.

Meanwhile, now that Brenda's guvmint computers in the tax and customs departments have (finally) started talking to each other they have found widespread underpayments. There is (naturally) a form on which you can contest any belated request by which they seek to make "good" any underpayment. And a tax manual giving them what sounds to me like very reasonable guidance:

For tax to be given up under ESC A19 the "reasonable belief" test must be satisfied. The important point to remember is that the test is not whether the taxpayer believed his tax affairs were in order, but whether it was reasonable for him to believe it.

Had we given any misleading information to the taxpayer, for example, telling him repeatedly that his code was correct, and then belatedly discovering that it was not? In these circumstances it will often be hard to resist a claim that the reasonable belief test has been satisfied... [You think?] Where the issue is so finely balanced that you find it hard to form a judgement, give the taxpayer the benefit of the doubt.

Anon in EP6618

A classic example of "Do unto others as you would be done by", in fact. Now, if only we could get everybody to do that (while simultaneously culling the sociopaths and psychopaths) we might be onto something.

164 to go...

... after I find I can actually pack eight cartons at a time into my lovely little Yaris. They do rather slow me down on the hills, though. Still, only another 20.5 trips to go. Ironically, my neighbours are (partially) moving out just as I start moving all these books back in. Books pack a lot more densely than sofas, and are a lot more manoeuvrable. It's 10:57 and I need a cuppa. Now.

Pondering my neighbour's...

... impending relocation, and knowing that his house is now on the market for £320,000 or so as this yellowing clipping flutters out of carton #172...

House prices

... I recall the topic of house price inflation used to fascinate me (in the mid-1970s) a great deal more than it does nowadays. We married in September 1974, saved hard, bought our first 3-bed semi-detached house in April 1976 (for £14,650), worked hard, saved hard, bought this 4-bed detached house in July 1981 (for £41,500), worked hard, saved rather little,2 but managed to pay off our final mortgage3 exactly 25 years after starting our first one. The timeline clearly demonstrates something though, in the manner of such graphics everywhere, I'd be hard pushed to say exactly what. And, of course, it cunningly omits interest rates.

Meanwhile, Christa's two brothers got effortlessly richer over that same timeline as the pound slumped further and further against the German mark, inflation in the UK soared while the German economy of hard-working savers prospered, and Karl and Georg stayed in their low-rent apartments rather than stepping on to our crazy system of snakes and ladders.

Time (13:24) for a spot of lunch and the cup that cheers. [Pause] Time (15:24) to say a temporary farewell to "them next door" and to unpack the next eight cartons. I think that will then do for today. She's left me with instructions to read her quite battered copy of Linda Grant's 1998 memoir "Remind me who I am, again", which is being re-issued next January. [Pause] Just eaten the first two pears from this year's crop. Crunchy and tasty. Well done, Christa!

A nice pair

I took this just a month before her death.


So much for our Indian summer. It's 18:18 and I'm getting hungry.


As a kid, I liked to imagine that a rainbow marked the edge of a large planet that I was viewing from one of its moons. That's the nice thing about imagination — you can go anywhere and do anything. But it's time to come back down to Earth and make myself an evening meal.



1  Predictable, I suspect.
2  One income, and three mouths to feed for a decade.
3  I'd long ago sworn a mighty oath to myself that I would not have a mortgage for any longer than 25 years. My first mighty oath was sworn when, on seeing the very first annual statement from the building society of capital re-paid, I discovered we'd managed to pay off just £5-70 of the original debt. Hence the interest in house price inflation.