How, how and how do I get my name off the income tax department’s computer? How many more phone calls must I make and letters must I write to tell them I have retired, that I exist on pensions, such as they are in these days of dark economy? And even if I manage to break through into the brain of the infernal computer, will it believe me? Or will it simply put an ‘x’ in the box marked ‘Liar’? Will the computer recognize my address as that of a retirement home or will it read it as part of my tax evasion scheme?

I remember the last job I did. I completed the work, checked everything, pulled up my invoice from the depths of my computer, wrote it out to my client and hit the ‘send’ button. About 4 seconds later I heard a gong chime, the sound on incoming mail. You guessed it. My partner, aka ‘Income Tax Department’, was there, demanding payment of his 50 percent share of my fee. That’s efficiency as I would expect from a government department. But when I tell them: ‘Retired – look elsewhere’, they laugh: ‘Yeah, right! We hear that one every day!’

Now comes decision making time – tear up their letter and file it in the bin under the desk or write them another letter? Or make another phone call and leave a message with another tinny voice which you know will never go anywhere?

On the positive side, my pen-friend has already decided on the amount of money I will be earning this year. That’s the advantage of having optimistic friends…