It’s been nearly a week since I got back from Iraq and I’ve been making the most of my renewed opportunities. Yesterday I watched six hours of television, went to see Star Trek Into Darkness at the cinema, went to the pub where I drank five pints of mild and ate pork scratchings (the good and hairy kind) and had sausages for dinner. All my dreams are realised. Having been paid for the work in Iraq I’ve bought myself a gift of clean shirts and trainers that still have rubber on the bottom. The Inland Revenue sent me a welcome back present of yet another tax code which I’ve added to my collection. One day I will have the full set.
The Inland Revenue’s problem is part of a general problem with my life, in that I increasingly don’t exist in the UK. I don’t have a job, I don’t sign on, I don’t pay tax, I don’t pay national insurance, I don’t have a house, I don’t have a credit card, I don’t drive, I don’t give blood (anymore, due to travel history), I’m not registered with a doctor, I’m not registered with a dentist and I’m no longer registered to vote as I don’t really live anywhere. I have no debt and no assets. The government might be forgiven for thinking I’m trying to avoid them, or perhaps that I’m living in the woods stockpiling road kill and sharpening sticks for when the revolution comes.
I might not have a job, but I do have work; in fact slightly more than I have time to do. I’ve been asked to write up part of a site in Turkey I work at for the final publication, the only obstacles being that the area was excavated by someone else nearly ten years ago and I can’t read their handwriting. I’m largely relying on hazy memories of seeing the trench when I went over to borrow the excavator’s plumb bob one morning in 2004. I think there was a wall. In a further test of memory, I was contacted on Tuesday by another excavation asking if I remembered where I found a particular scrap of textile in Sudan in 2010. Errm….
I’m successfully distracting myself from these unfathomable questions by joining twitter and becoming drawn into the territorial wars of the neighbourhood cats. The big ginger four doors down is taking some shocking liberties with the garden furniture and might be in line for a surprise if I still have the reflexes.