Near-Death Of A Salesman

I  am prejudiced against salesmen. Shop salesmen. Company salesmen. Door-to-door salesmen. You name 'em, I'm prejudiced against 'em. I am not proud of the fact and sincerely apologise to any salesman who, attracted by the pictures or vulgar colours, has found his way inadvertently to this blog only to be insulted for his troubles.  My feelings…

Saving Income Tax

Early in my tax career, in my role as stenographer, porter and punkawallah to the great and the good, I was instructed to join one of the senior partners at a meeting with Roy E. Disney's right-hand man. The conversation was going well (I had a walk-on part taking notes and fluttering my eyelashes, or whatever pseudo secretaries were supposed…

Charge your glasses

The highlight of my year as a young teenager  was undoubtedly Summer Camp. It was not really a camp at all. Public (that means private) schools bearing varying degrees of similarity to Hogwarts were hired for a fortnight and staffed by post-pubescent volunteer counselors, hand-picked by the ever-so-more-mature officers of our local youth club. With average pedagogic training approaching…

“Keep it short”

"Five score and one posts ago my father's son brought forth on this medium a new blog...." I could continue with the topical parody (last Tuesday marked 150 years since the original), but you get the picture, so I won't. 100 posts is a time for reflection. It was my wife who encouraged me to give…

The ultimate illegal alien

While Shuster, Siegel and Kane were, without doubt, the Olympians of Action Hero Comics,  the creators of Superman and Batman - each the 24 year-old  son of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe - were never going to be the  heirs of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. Man of Steel, the latest Superman blockbuster that I ran faster…

Birthday Bloody Birthday

One night a couple of weeks ago I met up with an old school chum and his wife visiting for the holidays. Over one of those multi-coloured salads that replaced steak and chips as the late-night staple round about the same time our hair went grey, he mentioned that, just before coming away, eighty friends had joined him for a birthday…

Losing Marx

"Another decade is traveling through, and I’m here, and you are there." Growing up in England, I was always taught that showing emotion was a weakness. So, as I read the above line in the New York Times the other day a fleck of dust must have popped into my eye and made it, and its twin,…

Of the people, by the people, for the people

In the early days of my marriage an ageing, newly acquired  relative informed me that - other than the price - there was no difference between Johnnie Walker and Tesco's no-frills, own-brand blended whisky. The market survey was not long in coming when, the following weekend, a visitor involuntarily sprayed the contents of a freshly…

What a wonderful world

Although we are a family of fairly avid readers, other than a few coffee-table staples, books do not  feature in our living room. Well-leafed and generally abused volumes are neatly filed on bookshelves in bedrooms and on our upstairs landing, or unceremoniously dumped in unlikely corners of the house (I stumbled on a haphazard pile on the staircase…