Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Gravy Train

At the weekend, Crox Minima (aged nearly 9) and I had a double-date at the optician. We both had eye tests and ordered new spectaculi. My bill came to a nystagmatizing £375. My employers, being the enlightened souls they are, cover the cost of the eye test (£25) and will contribute up to £50 to the cost of lenses and frames, which helps modulate the intake of breath somewhat. On Monday morning I downloaded the required form, filled it out, and sent it to the Fees Office Personnel. Crox Minima, however, came out with a bill of precisely £0. As she is under 16, her eye test is free, and so are her lenses, and frames, too. I think it's an absolute scandal! OK, OK, she's only a kid, but that the tab for such personal items should be picked up by the taxpayer, that is, me? Already, I feel I'm paying for the National Health Service single-handed. What's a boy to do?

My father came up with the obvious solution. I should become a Member of Parliament. As the Honourable Member for Cromer South-East I'm sure I could claim the full cost of my spectacles, and more besides. Many other expenses clamour for my attention.

First is my annual season ticket to London, which costs me £6,000. Given that I spend a lot of time on trains, I could probably designate coach B on the London-Norwich express (and back again) as my London Home, and call the cost of a season ticket an interest-only mortgage.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I'm sure I could claim expenses on behalf of Mrs Crox as Head Zookeeper. I also have a Personal Fitness Trainer, who doesn't come cheap, either. She recently had a skin condition that required £60 worth of antibiotics to treat, though the Fees Office might baulk, I suppose, at claims for a bill (£206) to have her spayed. On the subject of vet bills, Felis cromercroxorum has to go and have his annual check-up and injections

which cost £35 a pop, and even Beelzebun Demon Bunny of DOOM
has to have occasional jabs against myxomatosis. The other day, the Croxii accompanied Hermione the Chicken

to the vet, who had something wrong with her feet (the chicken, that is, not the vet, though the vet might have had something wrong with her feet she wasn't telling us about. It's hard to tell, she had shoes on at the time - the vet, that is, not the chicken).

And on the subject of chickens, we've just ordered a new Eglu, which I guess could be claimed for. We're keeping the old Eglu, though, so we can re-designate it as the chickens' second home, and claim an allowance on that. If people can have a second-home allowance, why not the chickens? Given that zoning regulations prevent us from having a farm in what is after all a suburban garden, they are less chickens than members of the family. Feeding this lot isn't chickenfeed - well, it is chickenfeed, but it's also guinea-pig feed. As we have eleven g-pigs, they take a lot of feeding. And it's also hamster-feed, bunny-feed and snake-feed, and dead mice for snakes can cost almost a pound a piece.

Elsewhere in the Jardin Des Girrafes, I've spent about £2,500 on two sheds, £1,500 on landscaping, and oodles more on a conservatory, patio, garden furniture, plants, etc etc. Indoors, the Maison Des Girrafes continues to be a money pit, and that'll also generate quite a lot of claims for plumbing, electrical work, redecoration, flooring, general maintenance and a man to replace the lightbulbs. They're expensive lightbulbs, too - energy-saving R63 spotlights cost at least £10 each. We also spent £500 on a TV, and we should claim for that, as well as DVD rental: though I think I'd draw the line at porn films (in Norfolk we know how to make our own entertainment).

There's also Caroline, the trusty 1995 eVolvo, who needs to be kept on the road so I can take the children to music lessons and swimming and Mrs Crox to Slashers Supermarket and other important matters of constituency business.

The list could go on ... and on.

The question, now, is if I am to stand for Parliament, which party I should represent. But really, does it matter? As the animals looked through the window, they gazed first at the pigs, and then at the men, and then at the pigs again, and found that they could no longer tell the difference between them.


  1. If you scrap the old Eglu, maybe you could claim Eglu-scrappage.

  2. If people can have a second-home allowance, why not the chickens?I think the chickens would have to be Members of Parliament too. Which is a thought.

  3. I might be able to finesse it if I say the chickens are research assistants.