With summer invading the office, Finance Mole is vaguely irritated by the new office passion for table games, until he falls for the table tennis bug
I was talking to the CFO in one of our meeting rooms that looked into the central breakout area. ‘I was originally against getting the table tennis table,’ he said. ‘I thought the noise would be disruptive and people would get distracted. But actually people have been very sensible and I see people playing each other from different departments. I’m a convert.’
Initially, the excitement had centred on the fussball table that had been delivered simultaneously.
Unfortunately, due to the presence of two French people in the office (the French being born with supernatural ‘fussball’ abilities), the impossibility of winning killed enthusiasm. Over time the office gradually became obsessed with ‘tischtennis’ as our German colleagues called it.
There were several contributing factors. Firstly, there was the person that seemed to come with the table. I had never seen this person prior to the table’s arrival,
I couldn’t see them on the payroll,
I couldn’t work out what function they fulfilled and yet they always seemed available for anyone passing who wanted to play.
The table was a centre for inter-departmental communication, not though, for work-based chat, but actually for the informal exchange of gossip and romantic advances.
I was fine with all of this in theory except that one of the handsome young men in marketing had taken a particular shine to the equally attractive Veronica in the analysis team, which lead to me interrupting games on two separate occasions to remind Veronica of the importance of the monthly board report and her responsibilities in producing it.
This was particularly annoying as I dislike having to manage staff precisely because I hate telling people off, made worse when the telling off makes me feel like an uncool dad in an eighties movie warning his daughter off the cool rebel who rides a motorbike and wears a leather jacket.
This is the best game ever,’ said someone, voicing what we all felt. Then I realised the ‘someone’ was me
So I didn’t share the CFO’s joy in the arrival of the table, at least until the office quiz night.
The quiz had soon finished after which a mass game erupted of keeping the ball going while everyone circled the table. Three lives lost and you were out. After a few drinks it felt like the best game ever.
‘This is the best game ever,’ said someone, voicing what we all felt.
Then I realised the ‘someone’ was me. I had rolled up my sleeves, was sweating with the exertion of running round the table and had positioned myself to get use of the superior of the two bats.
The next day, the team were working solidly as the clock ticked round to five o’clock. I stood up and casually threw out a suggestion. ‘Anyone fancy a game?’
It’s all about Juncker
All change at the top of the European Commission as Jean-Claude Juncker moves into the key post as president with powers to drive through more EU integration, not to mention crack down on the thorny issue of secret tax deals and corporate tax avoidance across the union.
It will be interesting to see how the former PM and one-time finance minister of Luxembourg for nearly two decades decides to approach the vexing issue of cross-border taxation and jurisidictional tax issues.
The favourable tax regime in Luxembourg is the reason the likes of the mighty Amazon and Google are just part of a long list of multinationals favouring the citadel city.
Worth watching Juncker on the subject!
Not the Middle Ages
The great and the good of the tax fraternity might have missed the Brazil-Belgium World Cup match but they had the pleasure of hearing Jim Harra, head of business tax at HMRC, defend HMRC’s new powers to raid bank accounts.
Met with vociferous opposition from the floor, Harra battled on, amidst random attacks that the extension of the powers on the basis that it would be a deterrent was, in the colourful words of extrovert QC, Philip Baker, equivalent to the Middle Age practice of putting heads on stakes at Dover.
Tiger Aspect Productions filmed the CIOT debate for C4’s upcoming Meet the Taxman series.
Flying man lands flat
Hard lines to the accountant from Droitwich, Edward Ling, 48, who had a nasty landing when he took part in the annual Worthing Birdman competition – to make the longest flight under your own steam.
Sadly, Ling crashed on take-off as his his pair of wings let him down. Keep to the day job. Far safer.