Still on the brandy tonight. That's two nights of not-proper-drinking in a row, Aren't I being a good little drone?Actually, during winter I do not drink during any day at all, seven days a week. Fortunately it's night before 5 pm and the rules only apply to 'days' of drink.
I'm still working on the editor test, which comprises three 'submissions' and I have to decide whether I would ask for a full manuscript or reject, based on the samples. One is easy, the story might be great but it would take an editor a year to rewrite the grammar. The other two are not so straightforward. I have a few days to make my choices and I suspect (if common sense prevails) the outcome will depend more on my reasons for accept/reject than on my decisions. If I use the wrong criteria, ie that which does not fit what the publisher wants, I lose.
Then there's the tax. I have to do this year's too, to see how far I can cut the 'payments on account' which translates to "We know you don't owe this tax yet but we want it anyway". This year has been much slower than last year and to be honest, unless a miracle happens with the books, there won't be much more income this year. There are meetings scheduled for the research work but once it gets through meetings - deciding the project - changing the project - firing up the lab - doing the work - writing the report - invoicing - there's really not much chance of anything more from that direction arriving within this tax year. Still, there is a faint chance of a short but expensive project landing in February. Not much of a chance, but it can happen.
It's a gamble, reducing those payments on account. It's tax I don't actually owe yet but it's treated as if I do. If I overpay, to be fair, they will refund promptly when I fill out the next form. If I underpay the tax I don't owe, they will hit me with the Naughty Tax Dodger Hammer and it won't have the soft padding they use for Vodafone or for MPs. I can, of course, simply not send out any more invoices this year but that's no longer reliable. One of those books could take off and make me rich enough to get away with tax discrepancies, or in the worst case scenario, not quite rich enough to get let off but rich enough to fleece.
Okay, a sudden book boost is not likely. The Bible Belt and the Vatican have still not noticed my use of actual grimoires and Crowley's spells in those books and even if they notice now, the income isn't likely to filter through before April anyway. Perhaps it's time to release that Crowe theory that there is no God, but the devil is real. All the bad guys exist and there's nobody on our side. Maybe that will poke the Puritans into action. I tried it on some teenagers at one of the New Year parties. It looks like being my scariest idea yet.
I can't be too hard on the taxman and I am happy with the questions for the editor job because neither of them have asked me whether I smoke, drink, use butter and salt, what my waist size is and whether I have changed all filament light bulbs to the new low-calorie versions. They don't care. In the case of the editor job I suspect the drinking part is taken as read.
These questions are to come from dentists, pharmacists, proctologists, chiropodists and probably acupuncturists and herbalists too.
Homeopathists would be fun. "Do you smoke?"
"No, but I remember it."
"Oh, then you need a bottle with no nicotine in it. That'll help."
Or acupuncturists. "Do you smoke?"
"Yes. Try not to let any leak out through the holes".
If you visit a chiropodist or proctologist, be sure to scrub nicotine stains from the appropriate areas and if you have nicotine stains in those areas, I would be intrigued to know how you did that and very interested in why.
I should be outraged at the idea of popping into the pharmacy for some aspirin to be faced with some smug-faced, clean-cut horror straight from the Amish School of Evil Modern Medicine who asks "Aspirin, sir? Hungover, are you?" but I'm not. Not at all.
See, if I'm buying aspirin, which I do very rarely, it is usually for a hangover. So I'd just say "Yes, and here's the deal. You shut up and sell me the aspirin and I'll let you keep your face." Being smug in the presence of a hungover Leg-iron is not a good idea.
Cough medicine, I never buy. It's no use. If I have a cough it's usually because someone's left the tap running in my sinuses so I need a decongestant. Cough medicines are no different to those things the Wild West snakeoil-sellers used to peddle. They are as effective as nicotine patches.
I know several non-smokers who do buy cough medicines because for them, a cough is something unusual. Something to be feared rather than a natural response to stuff in the lungs that needs ejecting. A persistent cough could be something serious but an occasional one is, dare I use the word, normal. We inhale all kinds of horrors every day, even if nobody is smoking within fifty miles and even if they are, the tobacco really doesn't register among the constant crap in the air.
I'm not outraged by the idea of pharmacists asking stupid questions. I think it's hilarious. It's not going to offend me, I'm just going to take the piss.
"Do you smoke?"
"Depends how fast I go".
"Do you drink?"
"Only the good stuff and only to excess."
No, I will not be offended by their questions, but I will be puzzled by their advice on excessive drinking if I'm buying condoms. In my experience, the two are about as unconnected as they can possibly be. If I'm drinking too much I can't remember what it's for, never mind worrying about putting a sock on it.
Consider who will really be offended by this. Not the smokers, not the drinkers, but the anti-everything brigade. They don't imagine it will apply to them. They actually believe you can tell a smoker from a hundred yards because of the smell. They are the Pure and must never be questioned.
Picture the Dreadful Arnott with a touch of the winter sniffles, calling in to Boots the Chemist for a bottle of Covonia. What are they going to ask her? She'll deny it but the knowing looks will be there to whack her in the face. Consider Don Shenker buying aspirin. He'll deny the hangover connection but again, the knowing looks...
It doesn't bother me if the local pharmacy thinks I am buying aspirin for a hangover because I don't buy it for much else. I am not in the least bit concerned if some bleached-face harridan disapproves of my smoking because I disapprove of her existence. We can come to a deal on that - She can let me smoke and I will let her exist. Everyone's happy, well, as happy as harridans can be.
No, this new idea will not scare me away from the chemist's shop. If it takes off I will be there more than ever just for fun and I will hang around to hear the banmeisters reap their own harvest. I will be there until they throw me out for being a persistent nuisance or for pretending to work there and offering demonstrations.
If anyone asks, yes, I smoke, because smoking is big and clever and smoking is cool. I drink because those who don't drink have no livers and are not real people at all. I eat salt because humans need salt and reptilian creatures who want to enslave us don't. Chocolate is toxic to most non-human species which is why the Thetans want it banned.
I know, other smokers/drinkers/etc get enraged by the constant nannying but to me it's all a new game. A new source of torment for the tormentors.
There has never been a Righteous scheme that has not backfired in spectacular fashion. Not one. This is no different. Their drones will be incensed when staff refuse to believe thy have never smoked when they are buying cough medicines. They will be outraged to be told that they must be buying aspirin for a hangover.
It's going to be the best fun yet. Bring it on.