Saturday, 20 June 2009

The Cosmic Quest to Reach The Bag Before The End Of Time

As a writer with very unevenly spread payments, my taxable earnings can get rolled back and forth across years like pastry. This was something my old accounts had failed to do, so my new accountant, the heroic Gary, asked me send him my 2008-2009 accounts early, in order to sort out the mess. At the end of March he suggested a delivery date of July 1st.
Even as a child, sitting in front of a plate of cooling Brussels sprouts that I had been commanded to eat, the lesson that avoidance tactics only prolong the agony failed to bed down fully in my brain.
I had three months in which to confront a resistance equal to Vienna besieged by the Turks.

April 15th.
After two weeks, my desk my looks Turner Prize-worthy. The relevant papers are piled up in such a way as to challenge previous assumptions about gravity and forces one to ponder the spatial tensions between order and chaos. I relieve the tension by pressing my index finger into the end of my nose at intermittent periods. I feel sullen about putting everything in order, so that I can fund a government whose members work flat out to avoid the rules they impose upon me.

April 29th.
I decide to get some online pointers, but get sidetracked by a youtube clip of Bruce Lee doing superhuman things with numchucks in a ping-pong match. While distracted a mysterious inkblot appears on my tax return 'advice manual' obscuring what I am meant to provide for Box. 6.1. I then buy a paper and notice the headline 'Space – The Final Frontier?' and am compelled by cosmic forces to read a long article to find out if it is, or not.
It turns out that space is smooth but changing shape to something lumpier – a little bit like a cuttlefish really. Invoices are no competition to the great cuttlefish of the spheres.
Reading the Bible as a child, the only bit of Genesis I that I could take on board as making a bit of sense was, ‘In the beginning was the word’ - that it all started with a sound, probably quite a small, pleasant one. Not a big bang as such, more a melodious hiccup. Maybe this smooth to lumpy cuttlefish change thing is just a syncopated moment in the majestic infinity within which we dwell.

May 10th.
Resolve to file the receipts into categories, but paint my sitting room [well two and a half walls] ointment pink. My son is not pleased.
What was the point of all that yelling I did through his childhood? Everytime he said he hated pink, I would cry ‘every single colour belong to everybody! And that means pink is yours as well, darling.’ [Later I con him into coming to Brokeback Mountain and whisper, ‘It’s ok if you're gay’ through my tears, as he lies facedown on the floor between the seats groaning ‘When is this over?’] After finishing off the second coat of ointment, thoughts and indeed paint-splattered fingers return to my desk. Why are taxes so intensely, stupidly complicated?
Any party that brings in a flat tax has my vote.

May 17th

Arrange biros in the order in which I think they’ll run out. I try to pick off some of the ointment paint splots, but only rip a hole in the middle of the Barclaycard statement
It is the anniversary of Erik Satie’s birth. I put GymnopĂ©dies on and do a bit of wafting.
It’s Taj Mahal’s birthday too, so I put on “Loving In My Baby’s Arms Some additional swaying now. This is not an accounts day, the muse has leapt upon my back, I must take it for a ride.

June 2nd
Gary has sent me an email about some aspect of profit and loss.
What do these people want from me? How can I answer this - that a dip in adverbs has reduced my 2009 forecasts, but an increased demand for subjunctive clauses will improve the half-yearly margins?
march around the room muttering ‘what do these people want from me?' over and over again. I warm to the repetition. First, I do it as Jessica Lang playing Francis Farmer, then as Ingrid Bergman in Gaslight and finally as Brad Pitt in 12 Monkeys. I return to my desk feeling rather glorious. I stand on the desk to grab a file from the bookshelf above and manage to break the handle to the cheque stub drawer. I start on the petrol receipts, but it’s sunny, it’s a weekend, we haven’t played Russian Roulette for ages. I drag the children to the park, where we play catch with six hard-boiled eggs and a raw one. Annoyingly, I lose.

June 6th

I throw open my window and many of the chronologically sorted piles I have made are blown onto the floor. Another sleepless night of anxiety about how much I have to yet to do lies ahead.

June 13th
I decide it is best not to get dressed; it will stop me rushing from the house. Before I do anything however, I must watch the Leonard Cohen concert I have recorded. I am struck strongly by how good humoured and gracious he is. He says to the audience, ‘ Thank you so much for coming...gathered here...just this other side of intimacy. I know many of you have undergone financial and geographical inconvenience. We’re honoured to play to for you tonight.’ He makes those other grumpy musical geniuses like Dylan and Van Morrison look like base, charmless fools. Leonard exhilarates; he makes me feel as if I anything is possible – even adding up stationary expenses. It’s an honour to listen to him.
I call Gary. ‘Is it in the bag?’ he asks. ‘It’s in the pipeline on the way to the bag.’ I reply.

June 19th
I gather up the mess, get some paperclips involved - like you might sprinkle
parsley - staple on a list of sums more hopeful than accurate and put it all into one huge envelope.
[left, cuttlefish in a pleasant mood]
I smother it in stamps and post it with a note to Gary that goes, ‘Sorry about the pink paint and the coffee rings, amongst other things. My receipts are not finite, nor is my desk a smooth thing; everything is possessed of intergalactic cuttlefish properties, as I am sure - in your capacity as an accountant - you are all too aware.' [right, same cuttlefish, livid]
Gary has gone all quiet - maybe his window was open too.