Well, in the last couple of weeks, we’ve had Poppy Appeal collecting outside the shop with Laura (coinciding with a half-hearted attempt at hiding behind Laura, from the eyes of my former boss, a spurt in self-confidence and a coffee made to my taste by said former boss. I suspect that may have been the apology I was waiting for, so I guess that’s resolved now), the lighting of the maroons on the 11th, and an extremely wet walk around an enclosed field near the sea, with Aimée, Lianna, John and seven dogs.
I have been ripping up bindweed and brambles like a weed-seeking demon, and have cleared a decent track of mud from the front wall of the house. And I have had a phone call.
Indeed, a phone call. Nothing especially unusual there, but this was an odd one.
A scam. Clearly, a scam, using an automated voice and purporting to be from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (the tax people). Except they didn’t announce themselves as Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.
They called themselves, in their robotic voice and clearly fabricated name taken, no doubt, from some Hollywood flop, “HMR Revenue and Customs”.
HM Revenue and Customs, fair enough, but the R tipped me to what was going on.
The tinny robot voice went on, explaining that I would be facing a hefty fine and time-consuming court case if I did not call an unintelligible phone number, starting with 2. No telephone number in England starts with a 2, to my knowledge, so that was another hint.
They continued, and informed my answerphone that this call was definitely for me. But they didn’t name me. And having some connection to people who have had something to do with tax, I know they don’t call, they seldom (if ever) email.
They use the Royal Mail, the standard post, that which has been renamed ‘snail mail’ by the young and exotic but that which some of us rely on for reassurance of tangible reality.
The final nail in the coffin of this recorded lesson in bullshit was the way the automated voice ended the call: “Goodbye, and have a blessed day.”
There is no way in hell the tax department would ever end a call like that.
It transpires that many people in the locality have had the same phone call. Some have panicked and had to be talked down by concerned neighbours and Facebook friends.
A good friend of mine told me once that his wife had a letter from HMRC, stating that she had made a mistake with her tax return and she owed them money.
She was worried, until she moved her gaze to the bottom of the page and found that she owed a penny.
A single penny.
My buddy’s wife decided to correct this oversight by sellotaping a 1p coin to a piece of cardboard and sending it to the Revenue and Customs with a deeply sarcastic letter of apology.
She later learned that if she had sent a cheque for a penny, they would never have cashed it, because it would cost too much to process, but she would have been all square with them.
Hindsight is a terrible thing.