Increased Pressure To Publish Tax Returns Follows Weak Performance By The Boss At Putin Summit
Letter from Llanaber
...Global politics seen through life in this strange tiny village in West Wales...
Recent ‘events’ in our little village have started to attract the attention of ‘the big boys.’ By this I mean that following the recent embarrassing and bizarre performance by our esteemed parish council leader, Mrs. Dorothy ‘Binky’ Trim, at her summit meeting with the gangster that runs the slot machine arcade on the seafront, the ‘beast from the east’ Putin Lotzadosh, Gwynedd County Council has sent in the auditors!
What’s more, Wyden Fiddlestop, the Gwynedd Council Chief Auditor has demanded to see Mrs. Trim’s tax returns.
Let me fill you in on the details.
A message came from Gwynedd head office that Mr. Fiddlestop would be arriving in Llanaber at 10.00am this morning, with the instruction that he was to be given ‘full co-operation from Mrs. Trim and her administration with his investigations.
As soon as the news broke that the chief auditor was coming in, I was ordered to Mrs. Trim’s office where I was instructed to ‘head him off at the pass.’
I was told to meet Mr. Fiddlestop on his arrival at the parish council offices then to take him straight across the high street to Trevor the Trot’s Trattoria, give him a slap-up lunch on the hospital budget’s expense, and ‘tank him up’ with the local brew, ‘journey into space.’ As soon as the poor chap was comatose from alcohol poisoning I was to shove him on a bus bound for Spanibont and, to quote Mrs. T verbatim, “Wave bye-bye to the nosey slimeball.’
I duly took up my position outside the front door of the council office building in the swirling fog and waited for Mr. Fiddlestop’s arrival. Ten o’clock came and went, as did eleven. I gave up at noon, as Trevor the Trot’s café closes then for lunch and for the rest of the day.
Today there would be for me no free ‘all you can eat spaghetti buffet (it’s just spaghetti).’ I sighed and went back inside the building, thinking that the top auditor had ‘chickened out’ of yet another attempt to twist my esteemed leader’s arm into disclosing her secret tax returns*.
*You may recall that it is traditional that the incumbent boss of the parish council gives complete disclosure of their finances by publishing his or her tax returns in full. When Mrs. T took office she steadfastly refused to do this, citing that her tax returns were not a matter of public interest, telling the Gwynedd Chief Auditor to ‘keep his sticky beak out of her business if he knew what was good for him.’
The Chief auditor was not to be put off that easily, and after much pressure from him, backed up from all four corners of the establishment, Mrs. Trim finally gave in and published a redacted version. This turned out to be a sheet of A4 paper painted black on both sides.
Back to my story.
I wandered back inside the building towards my office with the intention of returning to my duties. There I was staggered to find Mr. Fiddlestop ensconced in my office. The fly bugger had sneaked in through the downstairs toilet window.
“Can I help you?” I asked.
He glared at me, an ice cold expression on his face. What he said next I quote below verbatim:
“The parish boss' refusal to adhere to a 40-year plus, bipartisan, pro-transparency tradition of releasing tax returns, after what happened at the Trim / Putin conflab, can go on no longer.”
“How about a nice cup of tea?” I asked, “Shall I pop the kettle on?”
He gazed at me with steely eyes and said, “Trim's behaviour around Putin couldn't be more humiliating than if the parish boss had been dragged out on a leash and done pet tricks. Viewing Trim's tax returns could help lawmakers understand the parish boss' behaviour.”
“Would you like a chunk of Bara Brith* then?” I enquired.
(*this is a confection made from bread ingredients and sawdust popular with the villagers).
He stood up abruptly knocking off the desk my ‘nodding duck’ and the glass of water it dips its beak in.
“It would be in the administration's best interest to release the returns because transparency on that front answers a lot of questions,” he said coldly, “If not, people are left to wonder.”
I tried a different tack.
“Seen and interesting saucy DVDs lately?”
The left side of his face started to twitch, and his cheeks and neck began to flush puce.
“Parish Councillors have been complicit and have blocked over a dozen attempts to expose Trim's personal finances to disinfecting light,” he spat out at me, “But I'm undeterred. I'll stay locked on the Trim’s tax returns like a junkyard dog until we see them.”
I was lost for what to say next. The man was laser-beam focused on his target, Mrs. Trim, and his objective, to obtain full disclosure of her tax returns.
It was then that I noticed it.
There was a faint wheezy whistling noise coming from the ‘speaking tube**’ in my office.
** You may recall that there are very few telephones in the village. Inter-office communications are carried out by means of an ancient network of pipes called ‘speaking tubes.’ Each tube has a whistle for a stopper. To draw attention to the recipient of the call, the caller has to blow down the tube to sound the whistle. The faint whistling noise was a sign I recognised. Someone was listening through the speaking tube to my conversation with the Chief Auditor.
I was being bugged!
‘Bugging’ a speaking tube is highly illegal in the parish. There is only one person that believes themselves to be above the parish council law. It could only be that person, Mrs. Trim.
Whilst not speaking aloud, I frantically signalled to Mr. Fiddlestop to be careful with what he might say next. I touched my index finger and thumb together on my left hand to form a circle signifying the mouth of the speaking tube. I then pushed the index finger from my right hand rapidly in and out of the hole I had made, whilst nodding my head vigorously at Mr. Fiddlestop. This was supposed to signify to him that anything we said was being transmitted down the speaking tube and may be being listened to as we spoke.
He failed to understand my secretly coded message, mistaking it for a sexual advance towards him.
“I’ll have none of that, thank you very much!” he barked, “I’ve been working closely with your village top-cop, Robert ‘Robbie the Bobbie’ Muller, so watch it, you perv! And just so you know, sexual favours from the likes of you can be considered as a bribe. Where taken, the cash value equivalent has to be declared in your tax returns, understood?”
Lost for something more incisive to say and with one eye on the speaking tube, I blurted out loudly, “You’re working with Robbie the Bobbie then?”
“Indeed I am,” he said, still not ‘cottoning on’ that we were being bugged, “Muller has determined that the (Trim) tax returns are relevant and appropriate, he would have taken the legal steps to get them and would have them now.”
What I feared might happen next then happened. The door to my office crashed open. There stood the village ‘Head of Homeland Security and Protection from Extra-Terrestrials Service (PETS)’ with two of his thugs standing behind him, all dressed in their silver onesies. They each had a cosh in their hands. As they moved slowly towards the now cowering Mr. Fiddlestop, I could hear a voice, faint but audible, coming from the speaking tube.
It was Mrs. Trim.
I will recount as best I can her spine-chilling words:
“There will be plenty of time in the future to determine if this course of action is necessary, but Councillors want to ensure that parish committee time and resources are always being used for the people, to better the lives of the Llanaber family.”
What happened to poor Mr. Fiddlestop after Mateo the Knife and his bully-boys took him behind the council cycle sheds I’ll never know. Suffice to say that to date Mrs. Trim’s tax returns remain unpublished.
In a two corner contest between ‘right’ and ‘might,’ this particular battle was decisively won by might.
However, the war is not yet lost.
There will be another Mr. Fiddlestop one day, and if he fails, yet another, then another. The truth will ‘out’ one day.
With that said, can I offer a little advice to the next version of Mr. Fiddlestop sent by Gwynedd council to tackle Mrs. T? Have a word with the Druids before you come next time. Bung them a few quid and hire their devil dogs for the day. They may keep Mateo the Knife and his ‘nut-crackers’ off your back long enough to actually achieve something.
That’s it for now.
Photo by www.kremlin.ru || CC-BY-4.0 International