Monday, April 24, 2006



Yes, yes, yes! What a magnificent volley by Marlon Harewood to propel West Ham not only into the FA Cup Final, but also into next season’s UEFA Cup. It was the highlight of the weekend.

Indeed, the only highlight of my weekend – I seem to have spent most of it travelling. The saga began on Thursday. I had a lecture engagement in Penrith, Cumbria, a part of the country I have never visited before. I decided to stay over until Saturday. A bit of a mistake, as although Penrith claims to be a town it seemed to much more a village with very little for the visitor to do. I had planned to travel back Saturday lunchtime but decided to take an earlier train back instead. First big mistake. The timetable showed one a bit after 9.00. Unfortunately Railtrack was dong maintenance so one had to get a bus to the next station. Fair enough! But when I had gone to the station on Friday there was no indication that the bus drivers like to sleep in and that the first bus was not until 10.05. Nor was there any indication that the next station, which was about 12 minutes away by train, was three quarters of an hour away by bus! (Well at least I got to see a bit of scenery). The end result was that having left my hotel at 8.15 I was not actually sitting on a train until gone 11.00. And of course, being a weekend, rail journeys somehow take a lot longer than on weekdays – in this case five hours instead of 31/4. Which meant that I didn’t get home until getting on for 6.00pm.

Then up to Villa Park on Sunday for a 4.00pm kick off. I had to leave home about 10.15 and didn’t get back until almost 11pm. You’d think that with 20,000 odd West Ham football supporters descending on Birmingham they would lay on special trains to get them back to London ASAP. Not a bit of it. Indeed for the train from Whitton to Birmingham (a 10 minute journey) the police only let a few people on the platform per train (about a 25 minute wait for it to arrive), so that the train was half empty. Thankfully I left the ground fairly promptly. I imagine a lot of supporters had a far longer wait than me! From New Street I was lucky enough to get the 19.20 “Euston only” train, albeit that it did not actually leave until about a quarter to eight. “Euston only” in Virgin Rail terminology apparently means stopping only at Coventry, Rugby, Milton Keynes and Watford, which seems to me a novel use of language.

At least I managed to catch up on my technical reading with all that sitting around. But I haven’t had time to come up with any scintillating thoughts on tax issues, so those that have struggled through the above in the hope of finding some tax nuggets will have to wait until another day.

Robert W Maas


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