mesmile With the UK Budget coming up tomorrow – an event more indicative than most people realise at the moment – this morning represents the best chance for a while to indulge in some anarchic stream-of-consciousness humour….with a Waspi sting in the tail for the Chancellor.


On the side of my low-cholesterol high in Omega3 alternative to butter spread pack, it says, “Got a question to ask about your cholesterol? Simply ring this toll-free number”. I don’t in fact have any questions about my cholesterol beyond wondering how to shut my doctor up about it, but the existence of this ‘help’ line leaves me imagining who or what might be on the other end.

As it clearly isn’t going to be France’s leading authority on the causes of coronary disease, my heart’s desire would be a shifty Michael Palin dressed in a brown hardware store coat. He would give answers like “Oh yes, a tricky customer is yer cholesterol, you must remain vigilant at all times”, or “Search me squire, your guess is as good as mine”. But the intervention of reality here suggests the person will have the French equivalent of a Geordie accent, and open the proceedings with, “Hullowa, ma neem’s Gloria, hoo can ah hilp yah pet?”

I have two alternative questions lined up for this latter eventuality. One goes like this:

“Hi, I’ve been searching through all the medical textbooks, and I can’t for the life of me find out where my cholesterol is. I’m fully up to speed on the location of the liver, pancreas, bladder and appendix, but I’m still baffled as to where the cholesterol sits in the body. Can you help?”

The other runs as follows:

“I’m ringing on behalf of my friend, Colin Estrel. He wants to know why everyone has a down on him, and why they think he lives in butter. He’s lived in Aldershot all his life, and his desirable two-storey semi in up-and-coming West Heath is made entirely of bricks. I’m asking on his behalf for this informational inaccuracy to be corrected”.

This may strike you as representing childish behaviour on my part, but then you don’t live in France, where mon oncle Tom Cobbleigh and his mother ring me with nuisance selling calls at least six times a day. Also it represents a revolt on my part against multinational food manufacturers who persist in suggesting that they give a monkey’s chuff about your cholesterol.

I have, over the last three years, mastered the French required to bamboozle nuisance callers, and thus persuade them to move onto to the next victim. The failsafe version of this is to let them witter on about the special deal they have on double-glazed termite deterrent, and then ask if they want to buy a garden shed. It takes only ten seconds of launching into the uniqueness of Sloggosheds before the line goes dead. My theory is that, over time, one’s number will be blacklisted as that of a nutter. So far it isn’t working, but the subterfuge passes the time.


But then you see, life consists of being pestered.  Mums, girlfriends, teachers, wives, kids, tax collectors, salespeople and now an online version of all of them in one way or another. My main pc is still struggling manfully to catch up on 128 updates. When I last took it in to be tuned up, the young bloke in the shop said it was running slowly “because you’ve got all these old updates on there”.

Old updates is an interesting term, is it not? We’re not considered old until around 85 now: but for an update, 3 months is old – and after 9 months, it’s a cadaver you have to drag behind you. In the end I downloaded a cleanup/tuneup programme, and that’s pretty effective. But it pesters me every day at least six times.

Hitech comms are rapidly catching government bureaucracy up on the pestering front; they also share the latter’s genius for incompetent inflexibility and execrable service. Here’s a reply I got from a convenience email provider yesterday after I’d complained about mail not being delivered. For sheer je m’en fouit would be a hard act to follow:


The deletion process bit towards the end actually made me laugh out loud: ‘we don’t know if the deletion process is ongoing but anyway its irreversible and afterwards we guarantee nothing, including the viability of the Universe, and we know this is a crap answer, but it’s all you’re going to get now fuck off’. Also (accepting the T&C kopout) the principle of “account inactivity” is outstanding: ‘That’s right, we cut the phone off because all you do is receive calls…..what do you think we are, a public convenience?’ No buddy, trust me: that thought never entered my head.

The accusatory nature of the HMRC is unequalled anywhere, apart from the HMRC’s inability to grasp a simple fact.Last year, they sent me a truly nasty missive (3rd class via Zurich, as usual) saying people like me are a disgrace and if I didn’t fill in my tax return jolly damn quick they were going to “name and shame” me in the media, you just see if we don’t. This followed three years of me writing to them on a regular basis with the rapidly ageing news that I left Britain in December 2012, and am now a French resident.

So I wrote to the new CEO and was awarded a special account executive, and he was going to ensure that this never happened again. Now we’re in early March, and last week I got a letter giving me a tax code for 2017/18.

The DWP would love to issue me with a death certificate so they can kick my pension into touch, but in the sad absence of my death, their new wheeze is to issue me with a life certificate. This was another joy from February, and equally rude in its pay-off line that if I don’t get back to them within six weeks of receiving the letter, they’ll stop my State pension. Their letter (3rd class via Zurich) left me just over a fortnight to go to the Mairie, get the Mayor to witness and stamp to the effect that I am in fact me, and then for that me that absolutely definitely is me to send it back prioritaire.

I switched to the French tax system three years ago, since when the mailbox has not stopped having nothing in it from the French tax collection service. Eighteen months ago, I resent them the correct document from the HMRC, which they duly returned to me (3rd class via Mali) saying it was the wrong one. It seemed beyond M. Fonctionnaire to go direct to the HMRC. I’ve emailed both sides and requested they sort it out between themselves, but I know they won’t….so I’ll have to hire an accountant fluent in both collection systems – just so I can let them know all my income is taxed at source and my private pension is busy losing all its value at the bank awaiting the Crash that must come some time before 2040, allegedly.

I can’t believe I’m really that unusual. I can’t believe that a bold decision by somebody on both sides of the Channel, for instance, to ignore all taxed at source retired ‘ordinary’ taxpayers would really be that hard to organise. And I can’t believe they would do anything but make a profit on the deal.

It would be wonderful to get an email from the HMRC saying that, due to earnings inactivity over the last fifteen years, they were closing my account. But then, it’d be wonderful if the skies were full of pigs flying into propellers, and thereafter falling as ready-made chops and roasts into one’s garden. That doesn’t happen, and it never will.

As I write, Skype is pestering me about how many of my contacts are online, and my tablet is beeping every time I receive a tweet. With so many things to stop, start, reset and update, we’d all be better off as bloody centipedes.

On the whole, I think I’d rather be a centipede than a centre-piece. It’s not just the relief of anonymity: imagine having fifty pairs of legs – and between each pair, naughty genitals put there purely for your orgasmic enjoyment. It is no surprise to me that centipedes are blind. But do they care? I doubt it.

However, the Roman naturalist who named them centipedes was clearly shortsighted himself, as the vast majority have between thirty and sixty legs. Even so, that still leaves plenty of spares in the event of a breakage. But it does bugger up the ancient gag about the centipede with a wooden leg going ‘ninety-nine plonk, ninety-nine plonk’.

But to round off a rant about cheek, this one is surely the final word:


I have in my head a list of perhaps 35,690 organisations or individuals from whom I might be tempted to at least read this advice, even if the chances of me taking it were slim. But British MPs and Sir Humphreys wouldn’t be on that list: they would be at position N° 45.7 million on the list of dishonest square-wheel peddlers I’d tell to stick their advice up their capacious and pimply backsides….as if nothing else, that might temporarily stop the emanation of hypocritical shit from these feather-bedded clowns.

Rage is what I feel on reading it. The same rage no doubt felt by the Paris mob and country peasants against the Bourbons and their depraved hangers-on when Marie-Antoinette suggested a change in diet from bread to cake.

I will keep on saying this until Waspi recognises the truth about Whiteminster: they don’t give a fuck about any of us.

From the archives: who’s for a £120K unfunded State pension?