I find that there are little moments in life that catch us out; some good and some bad.
Driving home from afar and being able to pick up a local radio station again is a good moment. A hazy signal at first and not clear enough to listen to comfortably, but becoming stronger with every motorway bridge that passes. The security of familiarity.
A bad moment – and no offence to my accountants, is any correspondence from them at all.
A cloud in a blue sky. It is an email most usually. A request for information that I never have readily to hand. An email that remain bold and unopened as it drops down my inbox before I pluck up the muster to open it. A similar thing occurs to the actual letters I receive in the post; utilitarian brown envelopes emblazoned with HMRC. I find acronyms increasingly terrifying these days and heading the list still is HMRC or Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.
And that these are bad moments has much to do with my very narrow and refined skill base.
Recording a podcast last week with my son, Sam, he put this question to me…
“Dad, what would you have done in your life, if you hadn’t been funny?”
This question was not meant kindly.
It wasn’t to infer that I am so funny, that there is nothing else I could have been as successful at.
Posed as a question stating much more my broader inadequacies rather than an affirmation of my funniness. And that I was not offended at all is a good indication that he makes a good point.
That point being, that in essence, mine is a bow with just the one string.
Certainly I would never have made it in business. Or in any job with a clerical steer.
I can’t organise anything. Not even a sock drawer. I am behind every curve. I am much happier with a fitted sheet than a spread sheet. I file my nails more often than my accounts.
And as such, my kids might well have grown up hungry if I hadn’t been able to make people laugh.
How about this for warped thinking...
In March this year, all of my work evaporated and searching for an upside, I decided that the catastrophe of having zero income was actually a good thing because now I have no need to worry about my accounts.
And my misery for all things orderly and to do with officialdom is compounded by having a son like Tom.
You would imagine that Tom’s life is full of people? And you would be right.
Professionals. Highly trained and proficient people who get things done for him. Make his life easy. People who do the heavy lifting, enabling him to concentrate on doing what he does best; pretending to be someone else.
Breezing from movie set to movie set, interspersed with premieres and TV chat shows – and so the cycle continues…
Agents, publicists, lawyers, accountants, bankers, personal assistants, financial advisers, travel agents, security detail, personal trainers…
And largely this is the case.
Team Tom is a well honed machine. Made up of a series of highly paid professionals and one volunteer, who happens to be me.
I am the grit in this machine and without question, the weakest link.
You see, because Tom has fully embraced this proxy lifestyle, many elements of his life need to be coordinated. Some of the aforementioned professionals need an anchor point and unfortunately, this is where I come in. A role that my talent definitely does not extend to. Like a work experience intern learning as I go along.
And my ineptitude is exposed by the increasing complexities of Tom’s life.
This week I received an email from his accountants and immediately my spirits plummeted. The accountants had identified a number of payments from one of Tom’s bank accounts…
Note the words here… “one of…”
Payments that were business expenses and needed to be clarified.
Some of the payments I recognise and I was able to reconcile. But others are a mystery and remain so.
Tom is in Berlin and although we speak daily, it is usually a snatched conversation between takes and subject to unreliable signal strength. Hardly conducive to specifics like…
‘Tom, in November 2018, there was a payment of X from bank account number ending…’
One of these highlighted payments was easy to identify – a purchase of something called a Versaclimber.
A piece of equipment that helps the owner become buff. (For this to occur, the machine needs to be used and not just owned)
I explain that this is essential for Tom if he wants to keep getting cast in movies that require him to appear without his shirt.
His accountants understand this but explain that the purchase of such a machine is not an allowable business expense and particularly so, if the equipment is kept at the owners’ residence because other family members (like me) might use the machine for their own pursuit of buff-ness.
This I accept but I still felt the need to clarify that this is not the case.
I have never ever used Tom’s Versaclimber and I have incontrovertible proof of this - which is namely my frankly, underwhelming buttocks.
Presenting this evidence to Her Majesty’s tax inspectors might be humiliating for me but I told his accountants that I’m game if they are.
Surely, worth it for the laughter, alone.
Which brings me back neatly to where I began - and Sam’s point about the only thing I am any good at.