Post-apocalyptic science fiction novels have one thing in common: the survivors are never seen sitting around a bleak, wasteland campfire using the stub of a blunt pencil to fill in their annual Income Tax Self-Assessment Forms.
Maybe I should switch allegiances and ask global warming to get its skates on.
The tax year ends in early April. Why they set the following January as a deadline is beyond me. It would be beyond me if it was June, July or any other month, but do we really need a gestation period of 40 weeks? Surely 90 days would suffice. This is paperwork, goddammit, not procreation.
They might say they are doing us a favour, but I call it cruelty. It condones ill-discipline, legitimizes dithering and lends support to that rapidly-increasing breed of sorry individuals who are anything but sorry when it comes to punctuality, preferring, as they do, not to apologize when ringing to tell you they're going to keep you waiting, but informing you that they...
"Seem to be running late."
... as if they were a washing-machine cycle or a train held up by signalling problems in the Chippenham area.
There are fixed penalties for the filing of tax returns: one day late and it'll cost you £100: a threat that works for small fry like me.
So, yesterday, I sent the relevant figures and documents off to an accountant. I know, I should do it myself, but his rates are very reasonable and I'm easily scared by phrases like 'disallowable expenses' and 'corresponding deficiency relief'.
What annoys me most, however, is the time it takes.
No, not the time collating the information - which, because I keep efficient and up-to-date records of income and expenditure, I can complete within a couple of hours - but the weeks and months I spend not doing it.
It's been on my list of jobs since May, carried forward week after week. Why? There's nothing to stop me dealing with the damned thing on a rainy morning in June. And yet, I never do. Grrr!
Time, I think, for some self-assessment.