Friday, June 7, 2019

A flair for the dram-atic

By Abir

This week's question: What one thing do you wish you could write off against tax, that you (legally) can't. Make your case.

Don’t tell anyone, but I was an accountant in a previous life. In fact I still am on Thursdays…, so you might be forgiven for thinking I’d have a pretty good idea of what’s tax deductible and what’s not. Truth is though, I haven’t a clue. (I never said I was a particularly good accountant. In fact, that’s one of the reasons I’m pretty keen for this writing malarkey to work out). But accountant or not, I confess I’ve never played this game of fantasy tax write-offs before.

Nevertheless, I am up for the challenge (and it is a challenge – I expect you, dear readers, to read this and the four entries from my co-bloggers this week and decide whose tax-deductible frippery you think is best and most deserving of becoming a real tax write off.)

I would suggest two stipulations though:

-      Firstly, the tax-deductible expense of choice has to be book or research related: there’s no point in me trying to justify that new kitchen I keep promising my wife  (three years now and counting) as a tax deduction; and 
-      Secondly, that it it’ll be something vital to the smooth running of the plots of our stories or the life and well-being of our protagonists.

With those in mind, I humbly put to you my proposal for a tax-deductible expense:

A three month, all expenses paid, whisky tour of Scotland 
(and, if there’s time, Ireland too)

My business case is a follows.

My lead detective, Sam Wyndham, has a taste for the whisky – especially single malts. Now in the first three novels of the series, this ‘hobby’ was somewhat overshadowed by his little problem with opium. But in book four, Death in the East (out this November and available from all good retailers, thanks for asking) he goes into rehab. It means that from book five, he’s going to have a wee bit more time for drinking, and so, in the interests of realism and attention to detail which I know you discerning readers expect, I feel I have little option but to carry out a comprehensive fact-finding tour of the distilleries of Scotland in search of the perfect dram for me Sam.


Such an endeavour, as you will be aware, is no easy task. At last count, there were over a hundred and twenty working distilleries in the country, stretching from the Orkneys to the Lowlands, and from Islay to Speyside, and while Scotland might not be very large in North American terms, the journey is likely to be long and dangerous (pronouncing some of the place-names requires a degree in linguistics, and getting them wrong could have me mistaken for a foreigner, or worse, an Englishman).


So this is what I think I’m going to need for my grand tour:

-      A car (preferably a big one) – to carry all the bottles I’ll need for further, desk-top based research;

-      A chauffeur (preferably teetotal) – because let’s face it, my dedication to research is going to mean I’m unlikely to be in any fit state to drive;

-      A GPS system that understands Scottish. As the video below will demonstrate, this is harder to obtain than you might think;

-      Appropriate accommodation – I would be happy with a tent, but I think I should set an example to aspiring authors everywhere by staying in five-star accommodation where possible; and

-      Certain funds to acquire further research materials. (About sixty bottles should do).

I would hope to come back and redecorate my study so that it looks more like this:

 I’m sure, you’ll all agree that this is by far the best suggestion for a tax-deductible expense. Indeed, some of you are probably of the opinion that it is even worthy of some sort of government funding. I would whole-heartedly concur and will start a campaign tomorrow to convince the faceless bureaucrats in Westminster, Brussels, Washington, and whatever the capital of Canada is, that this whisky tour is definitely a good use of your tax dollars. (I'm kidding! Trust me, I know what the capital of Canada is.) The campaign will take some time of course, and in the interim I shall be most happy to accept any donations you might wish to make towards this noble endeavour.

The only snag I can foresee is convincing my wife to let me go on this trip. She's an understanding, caring soul but I've found that it's best not to suggest whisky related adventures to her without first sugaring the pill. To that end, I'd be grateful if one of you could supply me with a fabulous (and very cheap) new kitchen.


Dietrich Kalteis said...

Good post, Abir. And a deserving tax deduction indeed. With one and twenty distilleries, let me know if you need an assistant on such a journey as I'm sure some tasting will be involved. I enjoy a good single malt and can read a GPS, although not necessarily at the same time.

Abir said...

Cheers Dietrich!
I think if we can get this funded, you're definitely coming with me!

Susan C Shea said...

Excellent plan, Abir, and I am confident whatever Scotland's version of the IRS is, you will face an understanding, even admiring bureaucracy for your proposal.

Abir said...

Ha! Cheers Susan! If not, I may be asking for baked goods while in prison!