An Inspector Calls
Posted on: 22nd April 2015
They began by sending out a rather stern ‘stock’ letter, but when it became clear that we were serious and were prepared to do the necessary book-keeping, they told us they would send someone round to see us. The ‘someone’ was a young man who arrived during awful weather with rain slanting through the clouds. He was exceedingly polite but we decided to go in for a bit of theatre nonetheless. Anne pointedly apologised for being busy in the kitchen making bread, as I trudged off through the rain to the field. He did not quite have the courage to inquire why we could not use the car.
The theatre worked. We were, clearly, pioneers fighting a hostile environment. The inspector told us of tax possibilities that we had never even imagined. We could even claim a proportion of repainting the dining room, since it qualified as our ‘VAT Office’. We were grateful for the advice and it was in keeping with the general attitude of the ‘authorities’ we were in touch with – our contact with them was compressed into a very short period. Although it seemed to me most unlikely that we would ever make a profit, it seemed safest to let them know what we were doing.
We received a fiercely official initial reply, but when I wrote seeking clarification (and again implying that we were serious about keeping animals) I received a short informal reply from the Inspector. He told us that he would not need to see records of our small farming enterprise until our total sales exceeded 1,000 pounds. A ‘small farming enterprise’! We glowed with pride.
This was an example of the humour and understanding that we encountered from public servants. Small courtesies go a long way and we will always be grateful to them.