Week Two: 2022

So there I was, wondering why the tax authorities refused to recognise me. They’ve taken enough tax from me down the years so you’d think they could put a name to a tax bill by now. After a week of grinding frustration the problem emerges. Welcome to the online world of super accuracy. Here’s the thing. Back in the way back yonder years, when a human looked at your tax matters, small slip ups could be ignored by the application of that amazing quality (which even found its pervasive way into the offices of the Inland Revenue) of common sense. But since we’ve grown an app and loaded it with all-seeing authority, every anomaly causes much grief. And of course, because of data protection, all you can do is keep failing until you guess the problem; no one can actually tell you what it is that you are getting wrong because you may not be you and if you’re not you then you shouldn’t access your details which, if you are you, you can access by proving your ID with a degree of accuracy that previously wasn’t required. If you want the best example of perfection being the enemy of the good it’s the effing HMRC.

So what, my already bored readers cry, was the issue?

My surname. It’s of a French construction. It isn’t French in the way that we’re not German or Roman either. It’s its own kind of anomallous. Le Pard. If you’re interested – and frankly why would you be – its Huguenot in its origins – thems the peeps what gave us the term ‘refugee’ when the French tossed them out for failing to grasp that transubstantiation wasn’t something solely designed for the semi finals of spelling bees. My ancestors popped across the Channel to get away from being poked with pointed sticks and headed for Northamptonshire to make shoes or something. Those who know me will not be surprised to find I’m related to a load of old cobblers.

Now the thing about the French, it is that they do like their definite articles. Cunning two letter words that have a life of their own. What they don’t do is attach themselves to the noun in question. It’s not LePard, Lepard or any derivative you care to mention. Down the years I’ve seen every version, I expect. Once, back in the days of written communications with the Gas Board, they managed to interpret my mother’s name – BG Le Pard – as Mrs Blytepad. One day the Blytepads will feature in a novel…

Anyhoo, what it took me painful hours to discern was that the HMRC had me down as Le-Pard. Yep, that little linky-dink of a line was what the tax people expected to find. And when I proffered my passport etc, which is “sans ‘yphen”, as they probably don’t say in Boulogne it was rejected.

To my surprise though, having discerned the problem the lady on the helpline was just that: helpful. Maybe, because she wasn’t an app or AI, she removed my rogue hyphen with very little pain. And today, having waited 24 hours for the updates to have effect, I found it worked. I was recognised. I can now pay my tax…

There’s always a cloud inside a silver lining….

I have become a bit obsessed with my Fitbit. I obtained it around my birthday in November and I find I’m somewhat in thrall to its blandishments. Have I done 10,000 steps, how much sleep did it record, what is my resting pulse, how many calories have I burnt?

I’m not sure why I take it so seriously. Already it had me enjoying 8 hours 23 minutes of sleep with twice awake last week, which set against my usual average of 6 hours 40 was pretty impressive until you realise it had me dozing off at 10.30 whereas I actually hit the hay at 12.30. Watching a documentary with David Attenborough whispering to trees was enough for the Fitbit to snooze itself. At least it noted I’d got up to actually go to bed, as well as a later quick trip elsewhere… ahem, cough. From now on I will wave my arms around every 20 minutes or so.

Which may not work; Mrs Le Pard also has a Fitbit. She was surprised to be told she had been swimming for 30 minutes last week. In fact she had been on her knees, moving various of her cotton and fabric collection around some crates. An easy mistake for a piece of AI to make.

What I couldn’t really understand was why my resting pulse rate seemed to move around a lot. That is until I discerned the obvious pattern; during the 5 days of a test match, with England being humiliated in Australia my resting pulse wasn’t really resting at all. Outside of those five day bursts, it settled back to something approaching normality. It may not be the most intelligent piece of kit, but it understands me well enough.

While on the subject of obsessions, we have a new toothbrush, something called an Io, which is vaguely interplanetary. This brush (which has detachable heads so management and I share the base) vibrates in a sort of hyper circular way. According to its instructions you should hold it against each tooth rather than brush (so old school). On the handle there is a coloured light. White means you aren’t pressing enough, green is the goldilocks position and red indicates you will shortly need dentures. There is a digital clock and a count down timer that shows you if you have done the recommended two minutes (not per tooth, per mouth). If you stop after a ‘2’ appears on the clock you receive a smiley face, which will upgrade to a smiley face with stars for eyes if you do something really special though I’ve not yet discerned what. I also read there is an app so you can log and compare your dental performance. I imagine there is also a dental community where you can share eye star stats and see who is best performing brush presser. It does make you wnder whether, when you connect to the app, the light on the brush will turn blue…

Blue tooth? Oh come on, it’s not that hard.

Mind you, one is inclined to ask when did tooth cleaning involve such tyranny? I fear the advent of intelligent toilet paper…

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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44 Responses to Week Two: 2022

  1. Steve Tanham says:

    Loved it, Geoff. Great humour and transubstantial irony…

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I had no idea that wrestling with HMRC could be so entertaining. Nice one, Geoff

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Ritu says:

    Great job, His Geoffleship!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It sounds you are in war with AI? 😉 Maybe they only will check you out, for UK 2.0. In similarity to a last week published quote “Bring your own mind!” 🙂 Have a nice week! xx Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  5. trifflepudling says:

    How can you see what colour the light is when you are pressing the thing against your fangs?
    Not surprised your resting pulse wasn’t resting during that ghastliness!
    But I do love the Textiliste’s swimming 😀 !

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Intelligent toilet paper? That should wipe the smile off your face!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Haha, Hubby has one of these and is also mildly obsessed by it. I do 2,500 steps a morning before I get my sons out the door so I so need for one. I also don’t need to be told that my HR is erratic and goes very high when I am stressed – I already worry about that enough. Intelligent toilet paper sounds like a good topic for one of your excellent dark humour stories, Geoff.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow! Common sense is so rare it could be a super power especially in government. I would think that would interfere with the resting heart rate. I’ve become so involved with a movie at times that the FB had me recorded as in deep sleep. It shames me when I get lazy. which is often these days.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      I suppose that, while it still annoys us we will nit totally trust it. When it becomes so good we don’t notice it, that’s when our natural complacency will get us into trouble…

      Liked by 2 people

  9. A great view of authority and AI Geoff. Thanks. I have an Apple watch that does everything but remind me to put the seat down. I think that would be a great addition to the app.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Good post Geoff, but don’t talk to me about Blue Tooth! We tried to get the photo out of the new phone having to use Blue Tooth. It didn’t work, despite the phone recognising the computer and the computer recognising the phone. Hubby was pulling his hair out, which is a major feat as I have more on my legs than he does on his head (though his chin is sprouting wonders since he grew a beard to protect him from eczema having to wear his mask). Anyway, by sheer fluke, he managed it and it was a lousy picture anyway so hardly worth three hours of our time. End result? The decision not to use the phone camera. But there is a plus!! The USB cable from the previous phone fits, and yep, it works. Blue Tooth? Bit long in it if you ask me.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Erika says:

    Oh, my gosh. With your humor, things resolve a little easier.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Chel Owens says:

    Why; you don’t want your toilet paper to smile through the … nevermind.

    I must apologize (and, even, apologise -further, désolée) because I keep lumping your name into one.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. arlingwoman says:

    Oh gosh, sometimes I wander around the house while brushing my teeth so that little light would not work then. Glad you got the mess figured out and that the person you talked with made it easy. My own taxes await someone else’s efforts and will be a bit different this year as I retired… As for the fitbit, they do make odd assumptions. The swimming is a really good one.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Widdershins says:

    You are lost, I tell you … lost! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Elizabeth says:

    Please don’t spend too much time exploring the advances in toilets. But if you do, you will learn that they eliminate the need for paper all together.

    Liked by 1 person

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