Wednesday Hodgepodge – Ash Wednesday



1. When did you last have to interact, either by phone or in person, with someone in a government run agency? On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the experience? (10 being fabulous and 1 being pass the Tylenol)

I am steaming mad about our recent involvement with HMRC….I’m barely able to type this without getting angry even now. For those who don’t know, HMRC is Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs office. It is the office that deal with all matters to do with tax (in all its forms) and most people have to deal with them at various points throughout their life. We have recently had a letter from them which has got HUGE financial implications for us, after an ongoing battle to correct a mistake made by them nearly 10 years ago. In brief, the amount of money they say we owe was the final straw in a long line of financial problems and we have been prompted to take action to avoid going bankrupt.

We have a legal arrangement in place to make sure that our debts will be paid, and all our creditors – including the HMRC, even though we are in dispute with them still – have agreed that we would not be chased for outstanding debts. And the good old HMRC wrote to us this week saying that they are going to deduct the debt from Kevin’s wages at source as from April this year. We have no way to stop them because they have done this despite having a court order in place preventing them doing it.

We tried to ring them as soon as the letter landed, naturally panicked and upset, and the phone line is so stupidly busy that Kevin was on hold for 20 minutes with a repeated message saying “your call is important to us…yadda yadda yadda”, all at a cost to us because it’s a premium phone number. He then got another message saying “Our operators are all busy. Goodbye”. I am so mad!!!!

So the situation is that a) they have broken a court order by pursuing us for money they say we owe but can’t prove; b) they are going to deduct it at source where we have no choice but to comply; c) we can’t get through to them to talk to someone to sort it out.

I think I would score them 50 for being totally unwieldy, costly, unfair and totally WRONG.

2. The current governor of Wisconsin is considering a run for President next time around. Walkerattended Marquette University but never graduated. In terms of any candidate running for the office of President (not asking here if you agree or disagree with Scott Walker’s politics) would the lack of a college degree influence your vote or no? Would that be a factor in your support of any candidate running for public office, even a role less weighty than President?

I would prefer someone in public office to have some real life experience. A degree shows a high level of academic achievement, but real people don’t lead academic lives do they? We need someone to lead us who knows what it’s like to struggle to juggle a working life with a family life, someone who knows what it is to make difficult choices about childcare or looking after elderly parents, someone who has had to use public transport or who has not had the luxury of parental support during their early adulthood as someone at university or college would have. It’s all very well knowing that poor people exist from statistics and governmental reports etc, but to live amongst them and walk alongside them is surely a better way to see how to lead them out of it?

3. When did you last visit a place or site named for George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, and what was that place or site?

I have never visited somewhere named after George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, but I have been to Lincoln Cathedral in the city of Lincoln, where I suspect Abe’s family came from in the dim and distant past.

4. February 16th was President’s Day in the US, but did you know it was also National Almond Day. I didn’t think so : ) Do you like almonds? If so, what’s a food/dish/recipe you enjoy that contains almonds?

I am a late almond convert, as I only started to like them after I’d had my children. I wonder if it was a hormonal thing when I was pregnant? I used to love the sugared almonds that my Gran had, but I would snap the sugar coating off in my mouth and spit the nut out. I’d gobble them up if I had some now though!

5. The television program Saturday Night Live celebrated its 40 anniversary this past weekend. Were/are you a fan of the show? If so what has been your favorite (or one of your favorite) skits, sayings, or characters to come out of the program?

I have never seen it.

6. Anything purple within ten feet of you? What is it?

I have “The Color Purple” on my bookshelf, but I guess that won’t count as the cover is grey. Purple, proper purple, is represented by my comfy purple camp jumper and a book cover next to my bed. It’s called “Acts of Faith” and my go-to book at the minute when things feel overwhelming.

7. Back in December I asked you to submit a question for a future HP as part of a giveaway I was hosting. I grabbed this one from those entries, submitted by Zoanna who blogs over at Penchant for Pens. Thanks Zoanna!

She asks, “How often do you make your bed, and how do you like to make it-pull the covers all the way up over the pillows, tuck the covers in around the pillows, or place all the pillows on top of the covers?” 

I “make” it every morning because I can’t stand a rumpled bed. I put the make in speech marks because I don’t think it would pass any housekeeping exams and would only just about make it to the category of “straightened up”. I plump up the pillows and pull the duvet to the bottom of them so they show, and I put my extra pillows (which spend the night on the floor) on top of the m. They are my propping pillows for when I read at night or when I have a nap in the afternoon.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Today is the first day of Lent for Christians in the Western church, the period of preparation before Easter where we remember Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness by choosing something to give up such as chocolate or cake, or something to take up in a devotional way such as deeper prayers or charitable acts. We had a combined church service this evening with our Mission Partnership churches and we prayed for the burdens and challenges each church is carrying with them and facing in the future. We have committed to pray for each other in the coming weeks and we will bring it all together on Easter Eve with another service for us all.

My own personal choice of marking Lent this year is by following the Christian Aid “Count Your Blessings” program. I can’t do much to support them financially but my prayers and my thanks to God for my blessings will be with them. If you want to see what the campaign is all about, their link is below.

 

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About Pam Smith

I am a Christian and currently exploring vocation. I am a writer, I conduct a brass band, I am an avid reader and when I'm not doing any of those things I crochet with a fierce passion. I am mum to two fantastic young adults, celebrating my Silver wedding anniversary in 2016 with my husband. I recently gained my Bachelor of Arts with honours.
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2 Responses to Wednesday Hodgepodge – Ash Wednesday

  1. That is ridiculous about HRMC! I will be praying that it all gets resolved!

    Like

    • sterlingsop says:

      Thanks Mary. It’s quite stressful to be honest, and that’s alongside the feeling of injustice that they go after the little man who can’t fight back at the same time they let the rich and powerful get away with all sorts of avoidance and tax dodges.

      Like

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