Auld Lang Syne

  On New Year’s Eve, a man’s thoughts turn to the year that has just flown by. On the eve of a new decade, a man’s thoughts turn to the decades of his life that are lost. What has happened  since I sat glued to my grandparents’ gogglebox at five to midnight on Hogmanay in…

Miracle in the Holy Land

  Chanukah and Christmas – which coincide this year - are both, in their distinct ways, about miracles that took place within theoretical walking distance of where I am now sitting. Another miracle that took place last week would have needed the car – the Lod District Court ruled against the Israel Tax Authority (ITA)…

Not subject to tax

  ‘It’s on in the morning, usually we have it on some of the time’. That was the answer, a couple of days ago, to the question: “Do you sit down to watch the queen’s Christmas broadcast, Mr Corbyn?’ For the uninitiated, the Christmas message to the monarch’s subjects has been a cornerstone of British…

Service and tax included

  Around the turn of the century, British left-wing tabloid, The Daily Mirror, had a very short-lived flirtation with serious journalism, signified by the change of its banner from red to black, and the use of words like ‘proletariat’ instead of ‘sex’.  One of the serious broadsheets ran an editorial a few days into the…

Leaving (eventually) on a jetplane

  With a month to go until Christmas, this is around the time post offices are bombarded with envelopes addressed to ‘Santa Claus, Roof of the World, c/o Lapland’. Not a postal code in sight. And each year, there are heartwarming stories in the press of whip-rounds among local staff to fulfill the dreams of…

No time to die

  In his latest movie, Quentin Tarantino - parodying Hollywood’s parody of itself - has a baddie refusing to die despite multiple wounds to her body. Finally, Leonardo DiCaprio (SPOILER ALERT) incinerates her with a flame thrower he happens to have next to his Beverly Hills swimming pool, and what's left of her reluctantly succumbs.…

No laughing matter

  The masters of smalltalk have to be taxi drivers, barbers and publicans (Google translate: barkeepers). I have wondered for decades what humorous stories publican Albert Pierrepoint shared with his appreciative clientele, as they handed over their shillings encouraging him with the words, “And one for yourself”. For Pierrepoint had an interesting sideline – he…

Lost before translation

  At a conference in Lisbon a few years back, I listened to a delightfully amusing talk by a former British Foreign Secretary (who is NOT now Prime Minister). He mentioned a near diplomatic incident some years earlier when he was speaking at a dinner in Japan. His quote from Matthew: ‘The spirit is willing,…

…for the people?

  ‘Plutocracy’ is viewed generally as a dirty word. The idea (if not the practice) of government by the wealthy is anathema to those who treasure democracy. At first whiff the OECD Secretariat’s proposal for a unified worldwide approach to the taxation of the digital economy, issued for consultation earlier this month, failed the plutocratic…

Red Scotch Tape

  When Queen Victoria opened the Great Exhibition in 1851, Britain was the world’s leading industrial power, producing more than half its iron, coal and cotton cloth.  Well, I don’t think Her Late Majesty would be very amused to hear from her great-great granddaughter how the country she bequeathed to her descendants in perpetuity is currently faring…