Monday, 4 January 2010

Taxing time at New Year

WELCOME to the New Year, and I sincerely hope you have had a better start to 2010 than my family and I have.
First the sickness: The least said about this, the best. A form of novo-virus, or Winter Vomiting disease as it is more descriptively called, has swept through at least three branches of the family, meaning festivities had to be cancelled, presents remain unopened and mountains of food and drink remain unconsumed.
A couple of family members have actually had the lurgy twice, once at Christmas and once at New Year, which I think is taking a devotion to Scrooge a little too far.
But the question here is what are we, as victims of disease, supposed to do? Suspecting that novo-virus was one of the growing number of conditions, like swine flu, which doctors don’t want to know about, we contacted NHS direct.
Sure enough, it said get on with the vomiting, take plenty of liquids to re-hydrate yourself, take Paracetamol if you have aches and pains and stay away from your GP.
Second the refuse collection: or what are we supposed to do with all the food, drink, Christmas wrapping and unwanted presents (when they are finally opened)?
We have actually been giving unwanted food to various animals: wild birds, supposedly tame rabbits and the dog is having a wow of a time. The rest of the food is being put on the compost heap, which is now so large I expect to be told I need planning permission for it. We are burning most of the rest of the rubbish, no doubt breaching some public health directive.
But there has been no bin collection for four weeks and our two bins are now full to the brim despite our best efforts, as are the blue boxes. Sadly the bottle one is full of Lucozade empties and the tins one full of soda cans, which says everything about our Christmas.
So I politely phoned South Lakeland District Council where the most charming, disarming Mrs Cannyboddy is on the switchboard.
The gist of her message is: “I know pet. They are doing the best they can. I haven’t had mine collected for weeks. Just put out bags.”
When I point out the threat of vermin, she gets extra cute, laughingly referring to rats in woolly jumpers.
This neatly brings us to the weather or specifically its impact on transport. In this part of the frozen North the highways authority, Cumbria County Council, has been quite brazen about its policy, which is to keep the main highways between centres of commerce open and forget the rest.
Consequently no one in our family has been able to leave their country lanes or town centre estates to get to the main roads.
The struggle to get to work has become a daily dice with death. So the policy is obviously aimed at saving grit for a rainy day, so to speak, or saving money, rather than keeping society on the move.
So, to summarise: if you get sick don’t bother the NHS; if your bins need emptying don’t bother the district council; and if the roads are impassable, don’t tell the highways authority. So remind me just what do we pay our taxes for?

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