BUNHILL: A heavy-duty Budget, please, and bring back the window tax
Sunday 03 November 1996
Here are my proposals for the Chancellor, which I expect him to implement:
q Danegeld. Simple, we paid lots of Geld to the Danes in Anglo-Saxon times for no good reason. They must pay it back. The original rate was two shillings on every hide of land. My son suggests a big box of Lego from every visiting Dane. I agree.
q The Saladin tithe was, as you know, levied from 1188 to pay for the Crusades. It was a tax on movables, including Crusaders I suppose. I propose adapting it to become the Salad Tithe: I have never seen the point of lettuce and the like. A Super Salad Tithe should be levied on radicchio, rocket and other foreign modernities.
q Arbitrary tax. Naughty old Edward III drove a coach and horses through De Tallagio non Concedendo, the well-known statute of 1297, by imposing arbitrary taxes. These are an excellent idea, because you have no idea how much tax you are going to pay. It would be like the National Lottery in reverse, with all the media hype that goes with it. "Jackpot hits mother of 10: Must pay pounds 5.3m by Christmas!" (Actually the Treasury already makes an arbitrary tax on the Post Office - did you know it has to pay whatever the mandarins tell it to, without the option?)
q Hidage, scutage and tallage. Self-explanatory really. I suggest the Chancellor just announces them, and sees what happens.
q Tonnage and poundage. As above, only heavier.
q Poll tax. Why hasn't anyone thought of reintroducing this before?
q Window tax. Should now be a UPVC window tax, with a Criss-Cross tax for people who install criss-cross or Tudor-style windows (come to think of it, a prison sentence might be more appropriate here).
q Hearth money. Used to be paid by people with hearths. Should now be paid to people with hearths (like me).
Adding this lot up, I would have thought it would be easy for the Chancellor to abolish income tax altogether. Although he doesn't actually have to abolish it - if he doesn't ask Parliament to renew it, it lapses anyway. Good, eh?
A FINAL (probably) instalment of new management titles, this time with a foreign accent.
Maguy Higgs of Birmingham has been busy delving into the history books. She has found "Comment encourager les autres", by Napoleon (who got the idea from Voltaire, one assumes).
Meanwhile, Chris Sladen of Ealing tells me not to forget the classics: "A la recherche des ventes perdues" (Proust), "The management in the iron mask" (Alexandre Dumas) and Anthony Powell's "A dance to the management of time".
Mr Sladen also draws my attention to that early Welsh volume, "The Managogion", not forgetting a more recent work on nepotism, "The Management from Uncle".
I have discovered a new office game called Voicemail Pingpong, and these are the rules. First, you ring someone; their voicemail system answers, and you leave a message. They then ring you back; your system answers and they leave a message. And so on. The first person to leave 21 messages is the winner.
I find it quite easy to score half a dozen points before either I or my colocutor (I just made that word up) is caught out and answers the phone in person.
There are some offices, I gather, where they have strange creatures called secretaries, whose sole aim is to spoil a good game of Voicemail Pingpong. Voicemail is a boon to productivity and good communications, as well as the source of a future Olympic sport: these 'secretaries' should be downsized immediately.
Did you know there is a company called Linotype-Hell? Thought not.
You will be less surprised to find that a quite extraordinary number of companies have the word 'solutions' in their names - all, for some reason, seem to have something to do with computers.
I list a few of them here for the same reason that Wandsworth Council names people who allow their dogs to pee on the pavements. I hope you will shun them: Innovative Software Solutions, Innovative Data Solutions, Global Videoconferencing Solutions, Integrated Computer Solutions, Sub Zero Data Solutions, Deepwater Interactive Solutions, Ultimate Solutions, Aubergine Solutions.
I wonder what the solution to an aubergine is? Something to do with putting it into a colander and pouring salt over it, I imagine.
I knew that mountain bikes were very a la mode. I just didn't know quite how a la mode. I am grateful to the magazine Men's Journal for the intelligence that you can now buy Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Jaguar mountain bikes. And if you buy a Jeep Cherokee, you'll get a Jeep Cherokee mountain bike thrown in as an extra.
But the one thing, I imagine, you must never do with the blessed things is ride them - the labels might get muddy.
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