A Tale of Two Days

Two Taxing Days
I am surfing a giant stress wave. There are only two more days until my first-draft deadline which would be stressful enough were it not for the nightmare pair of days I am currently contending with.

Loyal followers will know the story to this point. Newcomers should travel through some of the 'journey so far' and come back so you are aware of the gravity of the situation before reading this post. Go on. We'll wait for you....

Hobbits on a Hill
Ready now? Good. Through the magic of squirreling things away and being creative with chickens, we had enough cash to pay for rent and heating for another month. Looking through our paperwork in an effort to be super-organised, I noticed something scary. My car needs an M.O.T. and Road Tax by the end of the month. Just as I realised this, the temperature plummeted and one of the reassuring lines on the oil meter (which heats the house and water) disappeared.

'Never mind,' I thought, 'I can take some of the heating budget and throw it at the M.O.T. then I can make it SORN (put it off the road.)'

It was a matter of seconds before I realised that I know of nowhere actually off the road where I can store the thing so I can't avoid the full whack of tax even if I want to. It was a matter of hours before another reason not to follow the plan arose. My husband's car broke.

Long story short, the battery was dead and had to be jump started but, as we stood knee deep in snow and surveyed our isolated Hobbitonesque village, we knew that we couldn't avoid the stark truth: modern-day Hobbits need cars and modern-day cars need tax.

My car, being still with tax and M.O.T. for a few days, carried us to the Council Offices for the second taxing event of the week.

"Money for Stamps Guv'nor?"
'We are Povs,' we said, 'be we worthy of benefits?' We didn't actually say that, but that was the gist of it. Many bits of paper were shuffled through and a few reassuring noises were made. We'd heard a few of these the day before at the Citizens' Advice Bureau where our organisational skills and ways with chicken carcasses were applauded and we were told that we'd done all that could be done and they could do no more for us.

'When I am homeless,' I thought, 'I will carry my library card and beg for cash with which to print out manuscripts and buy stamps. I will be the mad, novel-writing bag-lady. "Money for stamps; money for stamps!" I will shout.' I went into a bit of a Dickensesque dream until the man asked us to leave his office.

Anyway, back to the Council Office. Well, the good news is that we may be entitled to a few scraps of government assistance, which is nice, and since the library is close to the Council Offices, Hubby and I went in and loaded up on free literature.

The Deadline
The book is nearly finished. So close now. I feel almost optimistic about hitting my deadline. This afternoon, I'm off to get the car M.O.T.ed. Pray for me that it passes. When I get back I will be typing my fingers off. The novel must be finished. The world may be falling down around me but I have a deadline and as the Internet is my witness, I will finish my novel on time!

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Margaret Atwood

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Palaces and Calluses

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