My delightful epouse, affectionately referred to as Madame redstuff in this Blog, has been known to do a pretty good impression of the possessed girl in the Exorcist at the merest whisper of the word impot. This has made it necessary, over the years, to do everything in my power to reduce, in my humble opinion, her unreasonable fear and loathing of the FISC and make the annual tax return form filling as painless as possible for the poor woman. I must admit to a certain level of failure in the past as some years we have indulged in the well known marital problem solving and solution finding strategy of screaming, shouting, blaming each other whilst decorating the study in a shower of receipts, bank statements, P60s and other assorted important documentation , or as we fondly call it “The Tax Wars”. As you can imagine the smell of Muguet on the first of May always fills me full of dread as l know that within days l am going to have to confront Madame redstuff’s snarling, cursing, wild eyed, tax hating alter ego in order to get the damned forms done.
This Changeling, who for the rest of the year is my gorgeous, generous, warm hearted, sensitive fun loving wife, usually makes an appearance when l tell her that we will be completing the forms and could she kindly dig out all the papers we need. She sullenly disappears into her files still my wife but shockingly reappears some fifteen minutes later transformed. I’ve often thought about buying some body armour a helmet and ear plugs for this process to afford me at least some protection from the beast that was once, and will be again, the love of my life. This year, being ever ready to try some new ruse to get through the day unscathed, l thought l would try and do it on my own, down in the Shed. As I’ve said before my shed is my castle and normally a Madame redstuff free zone except on special occasions when, by invitation only, she makes a royal visit. Obviously l had thought out my plan with less than military precision but with tons of enthusiasm and believed it could work. Over the preceding few weeks l had secretly snaffled the various bits and pieces l needed from our files which are administered by Mme redstuff using an ancient french filing system, which l call chaotic nonsense and which she calls “I know exactly where everything is, so don’t touch anything”. Her system is exacerbated by the fact that she has stored every piece of paper that has been placed in our boite à lettre for the past twenty years – she would even store the Pub if l didn’t religiously burn it once a week. Against the odds l successfully managed to locate and recover all the papers l needed to complete my mission,(something l would later bitterly regret) storing them in my secret place in the shed in readiness for the arrival of the see-through envelopes in the Mail. They finally arrived on Monday and l was able to surreptitiously stick them up my jumper when emptying the box. Madame breathed a sigh of relief when l said there was no mail and l wandered off down the garden. I returned quickly to the house and told her that l would be spending the afternoon in the shed indulging my new found passion for blogging.
Well, everything went swimmingly, l was able to work out various incomes for the 2017 calendar year from bank statements, calculate the exchange rate from the twelve monthly relay transfer statements, apply it to income etc and fill in the appropriate boxes on the blue and red forms. At this point l faced a moral/legal dilemma of deciding whether or not to forge Madame redstuffs signature, something l have become rather good at over the years. I thought better of it and decided that the best course of action was to present the completed papers to her for signature. I had one other problem inasmuch that this year, for the first time, you have to attach a RIB (Relevé Identitié Bancaire). Unfortunately Mme redstuff has her own secret hiding place for such things along with cheque books, credit cards, birth certificates, wills etc. She thinks l don’t know where it is but a lifetime of reading thrillers and watching every conceivable cop show, from Dixon of Dock Green and Z Cars to Sherlock and Strike, allowed me to discover it with relative ease.
What l forgot, in my euphoric joy of getting the forms done and presenting them without a single cross word, was that the inclusion of the aforementioned RIB with the forms and other supporting documents would expose my desecration of her secret place. This proved to be my downfall. Instead of receiving the expected thank you, hugs, kisses and well done l was greeted with stony silence and an air of suspicion as she inspected the papers. When she got to the RIB l knew l was done for as she began to change before my very eyes. If you think her tax hating alter ego was bad you ain’t seen nothing yet. This new persona was so terrifying that l can barely bring myself to write about it. Apparently having trespassed into the sacred secret place was a crime of such magnitude, somewhere between being caught in your wife’s underwear and stealing the crown jewels, that my groveling apology with promises of dinner at the Abricotier and husband free shopping trip to Bordeaux, both tried and tested methods of getting back into Madame redstuff’s good books, failed miserably. Once l had cleaned up my blood and repaired the damage l was presented with the tax papers, duly signed, and sentenced to the most hideous and unfair punishment of having to allow the my wife free and unencumbered access to my shed whenever she chooses. And of course the dinner and shopping trip thrown in for good measure.
I will revert to the old Tax Wars next year as they seem quite mild in comparison to this years events which, dear reader, have resulted in this poor Englishman being
no longer the King of his Castle.