Cracker by Damian Christie

Death & Taxes

The old cliché of Death and Taxes have been a real theme for me in the past couple of weeks.

Tax, in the sense that I'm nutting out a story on this year's big election issue, while simultaneously ignoring the letters from IRD telling me my tax returns are overdue. The twice-yearly pain in the arse that is GST filing has been complicated even more by packing away all my stuff into various boxes, moving house, and not having the space to unpack everything.

Who am I kidding? It's also got a lot to do with the fact that I use my company account like a small child uses a tree – providing endless hours of entertainment in any way I see fit. Somehow it all works out, but there are a lot of dubious Friday night withdrawals that need to be explained away first.

Death-wise, I carried my grandfather's coffin on Wednesday. I've been to a few funerals before, but this was the first time I've acted as a pallbearer. I guess that's one way of determining how close you are to someone, especially as a guy – although I'm reliably informed it's common for women to lend a hand these days.

The funeral was nice, even if the chaplain did get a bit lost with the names (somehow my Uncle Terry became Aunty Megan), and the Last Post failed to fire on the stereo (I knew we were up against it when the chaplain tried turning the CD over to play the other side…). Surely it couldn't be that hard to find a bugler on a naval base.

Leaving the chapel, it was raining pretty solidly, a very grey day at the Devonport navy base, and I wondered if we needed to walk quite so slowly from the chapel out to the hearse. The alternative – breaking into a quick jog – didn't seem appropriate though, so I resigned myself to the downpour.

Which for some reason reminds me of a joke. Why does Snoop Dogg always carry an umbrella?


Anyhoo, Sunday just gone, I wrote my HOS column about the trials and tribulations of moving house. Mercury Energy in particular go out of their way to make life difficult, especially with their policy of "we'll be round to connect your power, um, sometime today."

How it works is this: You name a time, and they send someone round up to five hours later. They can't tell you anything more detailed than that, they can't call you to let you know they're on their way, and if you're not there, you pay a penalty (and nominate another time…)

All of which is great when you're trying to move house.

I got an email from Mercury offering an explanation for the mandatory five-hours of sitting around with my finger up my bum (I was bored, okay)

We are unable to give a more accurate timeframe for reconnection as the contractors we use have a schedule of jobs over the greater Auckland area and any new job is then added to that.

Which doesn't really explain anything. Many people have a schedule of many things, and add new things to the end. It's the way schedules work, and it certainly doesn't give them more than half a day's leeway to turn up to existing appointments.

But the real pisser about having to move came from the landlord. As I mentioned before, she's selling the house, so we had to move out. The stooped thing is, when the owner of a house gives you notice, if you find a place earlier, you've still got to give 3 weeks' notice.

Which is arse, quite frankly.

Not only do you have to pay moving expenses, reconnection fees, letting fees etc – all of which added up to about $800 – you have to pay them rent for the house they're about to make a killing from.

So I negotiated with the property manager to only give two weeks' notice. Two weeks later, the landlord said she wanted an extra week. I said "no". I pointed out we'd paid about $90,000 of her mortgage off already. She said "how about half a week?" I said "no". She looked down and realised she was standing on no legs.

Seriously though, what about a change in the default residential tenancy rules? If the landlord sells the house from under you, you can move out without any notice.

While I'm on things that just don't make sense: David McPhail's TV reviews. Anyone?

For something that's actually funny, Office fans should check out Ricky Gervais' ads for Live8.

Incidentally, I've seen the much-dreaded US version of The Office. It's actually not bad. It helps that large chunks of dialogue have been lifted verbatim from the original, and that the casting is close, but not so close as to be sad. It has no laugh track. It works.

Whew. One whole post without mentioning London. You see, I've never been there, and friends of mine are far more qualified to comment than I.

But my thoughts are with you. And as the Maori proverb says, "Iti noa ana, he pito mata" – "With care, a small kumara will produce a harvest."

Okay, it doesn't make sense, but it's a proverb with a kumara in it. What's not to like?