In the way that iron filings are attracted to magnets, 'Couriers' are drawn to 'Deadlines'. No matter how generous a gap there is between collection and delivery times, the deadline is always achieved but seldom beaten by more than a few minutes. It's a habit that creeps into other aspects of life, in fact I can safely say,.... all aspects of life.
Every year around this time, I start training my mind for the task of completing the annual self-assessment Tax Return before the 31st of January deadline. It's not that the task is particularly difficult, it's just messy, time consuming and lacking in any form of entertainment,..... it's just a legally necessary pain in the arse that makes household tasks like cleaning and ironing suddenly feel like the most enjoyable distractions that you could ever imagine. As the years have passed and the trading expense column has risen disproportionately to the income column, the £100 fine levied for the late filing of my tax return has become an ever greater deterrent to my tardiness. With this in mind, I began to gather the documents required for the task ahead - not too difficult considering that my entire world now exists within two panniers a top box and a suitcase - and set about entering seemingly irrelevant figures into an increasing number of confusingly complex boxes. Within five minutes, I was totally confused and making my first call of the new year to the Inland Revenue's help-line.
After making that call, it would be fair to describe my mood as borderline angry. With the passing of 48 hours and the consumption of several premium beers, I can now see that the people at HM Government's Revenue & Customs had a valid point in questioning the circumstances that had led me to such a state of overwhelming confusion:
''No, I've been away, I wasn't aware that I could now only file my tax return on-line''
''No, I didn't work in this current tax year''
''No, I didn't receive your letter, .... In June I was in Russia''
''No, I wasn't on holiday, I was taking my parents ashes to Boonville''
''No, my apartment burned down while I was away''
''No, I'm not taking the piss''
They did have a point,..... I wouldn't have believed it either. Unfortunately the task of self-assessment now resides on my 'to do list' awaiting the return of my will to live,... I'll still have it submitted in time,..... but it will definitely be just in time.
On the writing front things are progressing slowly and on the biking front things have stopped,.... it's just too bloody cold to ride, I've turned soft, it's certainly no colder than in any other year but because I haven't been riding every day, I've missed the climatic transition between bracing and biting,... my body simply refuses to adapt. It creaks, it aches, it complains and it begins to tell me that there has to be a better way of moving from A to B for a man of my years. I'm starting to look at ancient cars rolling along the salted roads and finding them strangely attractive and I'm a worried man,....... is it time to grow-up?