Donald MacInnes: One vice shouldn't be cheaper than another

All that will happen is that the country will get too pissed to remember that it quit smoking

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The Independent Online

A few of my colleagues may have picked up awards the other night (kudos to all), but I simply must insist that I be presented with The Golden Pillowcase for sitting through Ozzy's fag-baiting REM-fest. Holy Night Nurse, Batman! I was reduced to pouring triple-shot lattes directly into my eyeballs to stay awake. Even the Chancer himself looked a little fatigued. So much leaning! Good job the despatch box was made of stout British wood and not room temperature Dairylea, as he would have quickly ended up at a 45 degree angle, like in the video for Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal". Ee-hee, indeed.

Talking of the number 45, if you earn £150,000 or more, you will now have to pay 45 per cent tax, not 50 per cent. Wicked! Pity the rest of us juuuust missed out, as we mostly earn a feeble £149,000. Curse our lack of a proper education and a foot up from Father. Wish I'd stuck in at (or even gone to) school.

Talking of school, it was there, like most of us, that I utilised my time in the Sixth Form to learn the correct way to drink and smoke. But, looking at this Budget, I kind of wish I hadn't bothered. 37p on a packet of fags! But nothing on booze! What's George trying to do? All that will happen is a dangerous fag/pint deficit. One vice shouldn't be cheaper than the other! If this continues, all that will happen is that the country will get too pissed to remember that it quit smoking.

Things are simpler for brave Tommies trudging through foreign lands, with the doubling of council tax allowance for serving soldiers abroad. So, if you and Ginger and the Sarge are legging it across a dusty field, being pursued by 26 screaming mujahideen, at least you can comfort yourself with the fact that you don't need to pay your council tax.

Donald Macinnes's In The Red column appears every Saturday in The Independent