Dabbler Diary – Loopholes

To Enfield, to meet an accountant. And with that impeccably Pooterish opening line I commence what is hoped to be a recurring feature, the Dabbler Diary. I went on the train.

Accountants are having a bad press of late – or at least the ‘clever accountants’ are. Stupid ones are still acceptable. I’ve found that the great majority of stupid (that is, good) accountants wouldn’t touch the kind of scheme exploited by Jimmy Carr with a bargepole. But not because it’s too complicated: the K2 wheeze is in fact relatively simple, it merely requires a complete lack of shame and the nerve to fart in the general direction of the Revenue and then keep on farting while under investigation. David Cameron’s moral condemnation of Carr was scoffed at by Ed Miliband, who said that Governments should stick to ‘closing the loopholes’. But the world is far too complex and the law will always be a step behind, so moral disapprobation is a more potent weapon, especially for those vulnerable to Twitter mobs and indeed Carr has now grovelled for his long-lasting and extremely lucrative ‘error of judgement’. (It was politically a mistake by Cameron, of course, immediately backfiring with the Gary Barlow question, but Dave does seem to rush rashly into things and then endure prolonged repentance, eg. setting up the Leveson inquiry, inviting the Liberal Democrat party to form a Coalition Government etc).

In the end this all comes down to a sense of fair play in the tax planning game. Jimmy Carr didn’t get this but nor do the sanctimonious bores of UK Uncut. There’s a sliding scale of moral greyness but there’s still white and black at either end of that scale. Stupid, or good, accountants will show you how to sensibly arrange your affairs, making use of reliefs and allowances that Parliament has specifically granted to encourage certain types of behaviour, so that you keep a bit more of your money. But clever, or bad, accountants sidle up to the wealthy and open their raincoat to reveal offerings that are obviously grubby. They are rightly shunned by all but the greediest freeloaders.


Until last night Roy Hodgson had been exploiting a loophole in the rules of football which enables rubbish teams to win so long as they concede fewer goals than they score. The 3-2 win over Sweden was the most incompetent but also the best game of a mostly entertaining tournament. At the end I trotted upstairs to relay the good news that England had triumphed, and found that my wife and daughters were all fast asleep, and utterly indifferent to televised sport. This was a little glimpse of the occasional isolation of the man who has no sons. When we had our second daughter it dawned on me that henceforth my life would very likely take a certain path – not much football and cricket, plenty of musical theatre and films involving princesses. I have already had to learn about hairclips, for example. A melancholy thought but impossible to dwell on because daughters are such fun. Also, now that I see the world – parks, soft play areas etc – through the eyes of the little girl in my charge, I realise that boys are in fact violent and dangerous lunatics and best avoided anyway.


On the subject of Euro football, incidentally, did anyone else think that Angela Merkel’s fist-shaking triumphalism as Germany thrashed poor old Greece was a bit un-statesmanlike?


On the way back from seeing the (non-clever and therefore good) accountant of Enfield I met up with my fellow Dabbler editor Gaw for a couple of pints in Islington. The Hen and Chickens was temporarily closed but the great thing about London is that if one pub is no go you’re never more than a short walk from seven more. We opted for the Hope & Anchor, a famous venue in the pub rock and punk movements of the 1970s, launching the Stranglers, X-Ray Spex and others. Looking now, I see that the most recent major act launched in the pub was Keane, who made their debut there in 1998. Gaw would probably have argued this was evidence of the decline of pop music, but I’d say it was merely indicative of the decline of the Hope & Anchor. Anyway I’m always suspicious of claims about the decline of things that are fundamental parts of human nature. Gaw and I agreed that Martin Amis was looking well past it on his latest media rounds, for the heart-sinkingly named new novel ‘Lionel Asbo’. In a recent Spectator interview Mart claimed that people don’t read poetry anymore, because “a huge part of poetry is self-communion. When you read a poem you’re communing with yourself in a deep way. People don’t like that. Why do you think they’re on their phones all the time? They don’t like being alone…And it’s not an introspective culture. They talk about dumbing down, but there’s also numbing down. They don’t want to be sensitive.”

I don’t know what statistical evidence Mart had for this claim, but moments before reading that, I had downloaded an app from the Poetry Foundation, which delivers to your smartphone an unfathomably vast library of poems – famous and obscure – for you to contemplate at leisure. Over ten thousand other ‘dumbed down, numbed down’ insensitives have also downloaded it, and that’s just on Android.

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14 thoughts on “Dabbler Diary – Loopholes

  1. wormstir@gmail.com'
    June 25, 2012 at 08:42

    I’m liking the dabbler diary!

    I think losing the football was a blessed relief, the penalties had me feeling like a shattered WW1 soldier lying in a bomb crater begging his mate to shoot him and end it quickly

    • andrewnixon@blueyonder.co.uk'
      June 25, 2012 at 13:07

      In a rare moment of a TV football summariser perfectly summarising some TV football, Mark Lawrenson, midway through extra time, stated simply: “This is Purgatory.”

  2. johngjobling@googlemail.com'
    June 25, 2012 at 10:26

    That’s the way to do it, Dabbling back to basics, dosh, booze, football, politics, seventies rock. With added character assassination.

    God willing I shall join again forthwith.

    PS, regarding accountants, as you are paying for their time they will inevitably defer to your final instructions. Once had an Oddbins corporate account down as ‘misc, office’.

    • markcfdbailey@gmail.com'
      June 26, 2012 at 14:55

      What the Maltymeister said.

  3. matthewsimon@bigstring.com'
    Australian Interwebs Dilettante
    June 25, 2012 at 10:45

    Hi guys,

    Off topic, but just a quick note to say I love your blog. What drew me in was your book on Blogmanship.

    Please do a sequel. On that topic, what is the standard counter to the claim that your pithy response is born out of a previous ‘burning’ you’ve recieved at their hand.

    I can’y help but think that the book’s reply, “Ah, but you have to say that don’t you?” is neither dismissive or destructive enough.


    • andrewnixon@blueyonder.co.uk'
      June 25, 2012 at 13:09

      Hello A.I.D.

      Thank you for your sensible remarks about the Blogmanship book.

      Could you provide more information about the specific “claim that your pithy response is born out of a previous ‘burning’ you’ve recieved at their hand.”?

      We will then pass this on to Noseybonk to advise on the correct counter.

      • matthewsimon@bigstring.com'
        Australian Interwebs Dillettante
        June 26, 2012 at 11:03

        Hi Britt,

        Thanks for your help, Much apprecuated.

        Here is the exact text:

        Me: Dear God Loopy, I warned you on page one not to persist with this and now look what has happened…. It’s like wading through 5 and a half pages of baby seals being clubbed to death.

        I feel terrible, and in truth a little responsible. Mods please add the words loopy’s meltdown in brackets to the title of this thread and then lock it. There’s nothing to be gained from allowing the vultures the opportunity of lingering over his corpse.

        Loopy: you’ve been burning for the past week since your meltdown, this much is obvious. you’ve deliberately created threads to troll me and they’ve been ignored so you’ve appeared in my threads in some vain hope to exact revenge; yet all you’ve done is levelled baseless insults like a teenager, which I suspect you are

        Now I was confused, but the pdf handbook that I bought taught me that it is better to half the best word as opposed to the last word, so I promptly exited the thread.

        The poster is basically pulling the old Thelma and Louise ploy of driving off the edge of the cliff. It left me dissatisfied.

        Thanks for your help!

        • June 26, 2012 at 20:23

          G’day, my dear Mr Dillettante!*

          May I first say how heartening it is to see some budding blogmen practising their craft Down Under. Australian Blogmanship has been in its infancy for too long now – our colonial cousins have not as yet displayed quite the same enthusiasm for the intellectual subtleties of the comment thread as they have for the rugger field or cricket pitch.

          But on to the matter at hand. The wise blogman is ever keen to learn from his mistakes, so I’m sure you won’t mind me pointing out the two glaring errors you made in the comment quoted above.

          The first was the plea to the Moderators (or ‘Mods’ as they appear to be called in Australia) to intervene. Ironic or not, this has the whiff of the teacher’s pet, and leaves you open to a range of counters on the ‘squealer’ theme.

          The second was underestimation of your opponent. Though clearly no professional, ‘Loopy’ is nonetheless a blogman with some raw talent. His “all you’ve done is levelled baseless insults like a teenager, which I suspect you are” is a commendable play-the-man-not-ball ploy, and with a sting, too.

          You’ve got yourself onto a sticky wicket here. On balance, I’d advise that you have little option but to take a leaf out of Montgomerie’s book and employ a Stopper. Leave it a day or so, then state simply: “I wondered when you were going to say that.”

          On no account offer any more comments, either by way of elaboration or explanation, on the thread.

          Other readers interested in the Blogman’s arts should follow Mr Dillettante’s example and buy my book.

          *Basic addressmanship, incorporating a level 1 condescension-ploy with exaggerated politeness

          • matthewsimon@bigstring.com'
            Australian Interwebd Dillettante
            June 27, 2012 at 10:04

            Dear Nosybonk,

            Thank you for your long and considered response. Your book on the dark arts of Blogmanship has brought me great pleasure and inspiration. I have used the ‘category error’ line twice now and not once have I received a reply!

            In any event, please forgive my antipodean brashness which you have so clearly highlighted with regard to my little joust with Loopy. I shall endeavour to apply myself to my studies in a bid to sharpen both skill and technique.

            Good luck with the Olympics and keep up the good work here,

            Kind regards,

  4. matthewsimon@bigstring.com'
    Australian Interwebs Dilettante
    June 25, 2012 at 10:46

    Apologies for the appalling proofread.

  5. Gaw
    June 25, 2012 at 21:19

    Further to the complaining about how rubbish M.Amis is (which has become a highly enjoyable traditional British pastime), I caught him on the Culture Show remarking that his latest, if it’s about anything, is about how education should be a right. Yes, everyone has the right to an education. Didn’t we sort of move beyond this one a few years ago? You can go to prison for not daily dispatching your child to enjoy its educational rights.

  6. owls001@gmail.com'
    June 26, 2012 at 20:12

    Tempo dear Brit, just like batting in cricket. We Ingerlanders play a fast and better version of the game. International football is not the pinnacle of the game it just a different type of the game, strength and tactics in the main, but in heat patient skill. just as the southern hemisphere play a different type of Rugby to our ruck and maul game.

    Who the hell watches German league football? exactly nobody much lets stop beating ourselves up about it. I was at the park earlier tonight and 300 plus kids were playing, not a sight you would see in other countries. Serie A anyone? thought not.

  7. john.hh43@googlemail.com'
    John Halliwell
    June 27, 2012 at 15:52

    I like the idea of a Dabbler Diary:

    ‘Went to allotment, decided to engage in a spot of surreptitious firkling; disappointed, looks as though I’ve developed a rampant case of wireworm; perhaps it was the poorly disguised and self-conscicous scratching that alerted others, resulting in some strange looks, especially from Mavis on plot 3, whose granny smiths won admiring glances at the Shrewsbury Show. She hasn’t trusted me since I suggested, somewhat mischievously, she remove all netting from her brassicas – simply to give them air – resulting in Alf’s pigeons (plot 8) entering the Guinness Book of Records as the first birds since the dodo to fail to get off the ground even after a fifty yard run-up….’

    ‘Ran into the divine Felicity, complimented her on her recent facelift: “My, you don’t look a day over seventy!” She replied “Not surprising – I’m 52”.

    Perhaps best I keep away from diaries.

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