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How the PAYE man saved me from disaster! 1, December 2006

Posted by babychaos in General Wittering, Grumpy Old Bag, Life and living, Play.

Why am I so crap?

I ask myself this myriad times a day. It’s not as bad as it was, I quite like me now – sometimes I even pity normal people who don’t have all this exciting drama in their lives – and I can handle being the way I am but other times I envy people who live panic-free and I do wish I was just that little bit more manageable.

I only seem to have two settings for anything, on or off. Mr BC calls this “digital” and “binary” (I suspect I am also barking). He says I am interrupt driven, too. This means I do half a job and then get distracted by another job and go off and do a bit of that, get distracted again, move on to another and then back to the job I started. He says it takes me a long time to do anything and my activities tend to be completed in batches. This is true but the interrupt thing is reliant on my leaving whatever I’m working on lying about in a number of designated areas around the house (designated areas because otherwise every surface in the house would be covered in things that were lying around – Mr BC calls these areas BC Office 1 through to …um well.. probably about 70 but I digress).

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is I have to be untidy to be organised because all my prompts are visual. If I’m tidy, the house will look great but I am unlikely to know much more about my affairs than my name and were I live because a) there are no visual prompts and b) I’m using all my brain power to remember where I put away the things I haven’t finished with but can no longer see.

Here’s an example. A small disaster has overtaken me recently and by forensically investigating my movements over the period of time concerned I have reconstructed events.

It’s July and I’ve just done my tax return. Usually I keep my computer and all this kind of stuff in my office. The only exception to this is my Scanner which has to live in the house because my office is a shed and the temperature in there yo-yo’s like a ho’s drawers and scanners prefer a bit of environmental continuity. This means that when I want to copy something I have to bring my lap top back to the house, retrieve the scanner from a cupboard, put a cutting board on our table to protect it from the heat, set up the computer and scanner and scan whatever it is that needs scanned. It’s messy, so if we have people coming or I need to use it just before we’re going to go out, I tend to leave it until later. This is usually ok – I tend to produce my art in batches so I scan them when they’re all finished. Where it falls down is when I’m scanning something farty – but highly important – like a tax return.

Here in the UK, if you get your tax return in by October the tax office work out your tax for you. If you’re like me you can’t add up and haven’t passed a maths exam since you were 9 years old then obviously any official communication from the Tax office leaves you in a cold sweat, not to mention a bit green about the gills. To wit, obviously the Mr Tax Man Works it Out facility is a complete godsend. God Bless and Keep whatever kind soul at the Inland Revenue thought it up.

Well, the day I’d done my tax form, I think we had people coming – my memory is sketchy at the best of times and trust me, this isn’t the best of times. I wanted to make a copy of my newly completed form before I sent it but I didn’t have enough time to set up the scanner and phaff about before our guests arrived. Not wanting them to see the pitiful amount I earn I tidied it all away and made a mental note to get it all back out again and do it later. Who knows what really happened but I reckon that’s about the size of it.

Spool forward three months and I’m still feeling smug about having done my tax return in time for the Mr Tax Man Works it Out facility and then out of the blue I got a document from the PAYE (Pay As You Earn) man in another part of the Inland Revenue this morning asking me to list every piece of work I’ve done since October 9 last year (in 3 ludicrously undersized boxes). Never mind, I think, digging out the envelope where I keep all my tax stuff. It’s all on my tax return and this year, I copied it before I sent it in. So.. What’s the first thing I find when I open the envelope?

Yes, that’s right.

My sodding tax return!

Not the copy. The real, pukka handwritten bastard thing – s’cuse the swearing but I assure you it’s very necessary in this case. The thing I thought I’d posted three months ago, the thing that, since I didn’t post it three months ago, is now well beyond the Mr Tax Man Works it Out threshold… thus meaning, I who am completely numerically inept, will have to work out how much tax I owe them – or they owe me – on my own.

How could I have tided away something that important? Why didn’t I move it to a different to-do pile in a more private part of the house? How come, after being me for 38 years I still didn’t realise that once it wasn’t lying on the table I would instantly forget its existence? How could I have not realised that, once taken out of my eye line, my brain would file it as done and delete it from my mental hard drive? I can’t even ask for sympathy because I’m absolutely gobsmacked that I could have managed to be such an unutterably, mind numbingly, dim-witted moron in the first place!

Then again, there is a silver lining.

If you don’t file your tax return by the January after they’ve requested it you get a £100 fine. Thank heavens they wanted all that other information or I’d have never known the situation until the £100 fine arrived. I mean, lord in heaven! I’m a reasonably intelligent woman, I had a high powered job once and I was even smart enough to be good at it but a life time of leaving stuff out, where I can see it, and not putting it away until it’s finished means that nowadays if I put anything away at all THIS is the kind of thing that happens.

I appreciate that it’s better to find out this way than by din’t of a £100 fine and deep down, the bulk of me enjoys being strange but I do sometimes ache to be a bit more… usual.



1. Mrs. Nicklebee - 3, December 2006

Oh, ((((((((((BC)))))))))), I’m so sorry that happened and that you’ve felt a little less than happy with yourself. Rest assured, you are not the first one to put something important away and completely forget about it and you won’t be the last. I think everyone who doesn’t still live with his mother has done that at least once. We all have our moments.

This means I do half a job and then get distracted by another job and go off and do a bit of that, get distracted again, move on to another and then back to the job I started. He says it takes me a long time to do anything and my activities tend to be completed in batches.

I do the exact same thing! It’s terrible! It takes me forever to get any one thing accomplished because I have at least three things going at once. I get to working on something, have to go answer the phone or something and get distracted, and then start working on something else. It’s worse, exponentially, when I’m under a time crunch and have several things that have the same or close deadlines.

So there you have it. You’re human!

2. babychaos - 3, December 2006

Bless you Mrs N that’s a top comment! I’m glad to hear it!
You know what, though. According to Mr BC that’s also how computers work. If you think about defraging the hard drive it’s exactly the same as tidying up. Left to it’s own devices your computer just dumps stuff all over the shop, none of it’s together but the most important thing… IT KNOWS WHERE IT IS!
So maybe people like us are just smarter than everyone else thinks! 😉 Ah I wish!

3. Mrs. Nicklebee - 5, December 2006

Oh, I am sure that must be what it is! Our superior intellect allows for a great deal of “fragmentation”. lol

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