Saturday, 6 November 2010

A Couple of Days in London

 I don't get back to London as often as I would like, so I was pleased to pay a flying visit this week. I always stay at the Victory Services Club, which has become something of a second home to me. Shortly after I arrived I was thrilled to find myself enjoying a pint with the crew of a Nimrod. It occured to me that with the phasing out of the Nimrod due shortly, this might be the last time I see a crew of 6 out in London in uniform - an era is passing. My family has connections with Coastal and Bomber Commands, so I found the thought to be most poignant.

Yesterday was almost as fine as a birthday can be. Its always nice to  wake up in London - I was there for a press conference at which Nikki Sinclaire made some damning allegations about other British MEPs and about the UK Independence Party. I was a member of UKIP for a long time, and it is sad to see the way the party has gone. Lets hope that between them Nikki and the courts will knock some sense into them. Anyway, the press conference attracted significant coverage in the media.

We then adjourned to Westminster Palace where we were met by the deputy Sergeant-at- Arms, who is currently undergoing RAF training with Nikki. We were treated to a brief tour of both houses, and some fascinating conversation when we were joined for coffee by two other RAF officers.

Then it was back to the VSC where I was delighted to be reunited with my former boss and very good friend Tom Wise. Tom has been through the mill, but is looking good, fighting fit, and his old cheerful self. There is a story to be told here, and I look forward to it more than some others will be :)

And so finally to Southwark Park. It has always satisfied me that the nation celebrates my birthday so spectacularly each year, and Bermondsey put on a great firework display last night.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Belgian Corporate Tax - Just Make It Up!

I have in front of me a fascinating little booklet from the Belgian Federal Finance Office. It is all about a new and innovative tax initiative from the Belgian authorities, and it might give us an insight into why the Belgian economy is so totally screwed up.

I quote from page 4:

"... a new, innovative and powerful measure in international tax law enabling all companies subject to Belgian corporate tax to deduct from their taxable income a fictitious interest..."

The morning when I discovered this little gem was just perfect, because I later found myself seated at lunch next to a really nice chap who turned out be a big wheel in the Finance Office. I expressed my delight at the institutionalisation of the concept of entering fictitious figures on tax returns (although I myself am subject only to fixed local taxes, and am not a Belgian taxpayer myself, I hasten to add!)

It transpires, as with so many things in Belgium, that this does not actually mean what it says. It means something else a bit different, but we couldn't really get to the bottom of it.

I quite like the Belgian flag - nice bold colours - but what it is really missing is an image of Kafka in the centre!