Lake Mabprachan, East Pattaya, 24th January, 2011

Yes, I’m still sober and there are no signs of weakening as yet, although I really must get myself into gear and start going to a few AA meetings. They will help to cement my new found resolve.

On Saturday I put a cold flannel on my forehead, pulled out all my tax files and started doing my UK tax returns.  I have been non-resident for many years, but up to the tax year 2007/8 I still had some taxable income in the UK and as such submitted my return online and paid the due tax. Since then there has been no taxable income and I did not submit any returns – a mistake maybe? The tax office has been pursuing me for the missing returns ever since, and they have already levied fines on me for failure to file for the year 2008/9 and if I didn’t file for 2009/10 by the end of January 2011, then I will be liable for fines for both years, including additional fines for the earlier year.

I had problems logging into my self-assessment tax account online and eventually had to call them, (yes, amazingly they were open on Saturday morning) and I finally managed to sort it out and get logged in. Then I got a bit of a surprise. I had not notified the tax office of my new address and all my  ‘snail mail’ tax correspondence that had been passed on to me by Dang, was still being sent to the marital home, as I had not yet notified them that I moved out in October 2009.

Yet there, online, was my new address, as bold as brass. How had they tracked me down? I can only assume it must have been the state pension department who had forwarded the details to the tax department (there is a common reference – my National insurance No.) as I had recently written to them concerning my State pension, which is due in June of this year. No hiding place – it would seem, from the tax man.

Anyway, by late Saturday evening I had managed to navigate my way through two years tax returns and submit them online. According to my calculations, I owe them nil tax for both years and I am optimistic that my fines for late filing will now be waived.

Yesterday, Sunday, I made a start on chapter 4 of my novel. It is not an easy chapter and I am making slow progress. In a way it is re-run of the chapter that I wrote before as the opening chapter – the one that I lost when it was overwritten by mistake. So even though the events take a slightly different course, and there are now three chapters in front of this one, I still find it hard to re-create a scene and events that I had already completed once before, but sadly lost. It may take me several days to complete, especially as I will be doing little or no writing  today as I have a few errands to run in Pattaya, so don’t expect anything much before the end of this week. I try to discipline myself to completing one chapter in one week (c. 10,000 words).  That is one week of writing and editing and does not include me taking a break when I have finished a chapter, so realistically, it may be about a 10 days gap between the blog publication of chapters. My aim is to have the novel completed by the end of July at the very latest, so if do stick to the aforementioned schedule it will probably be completed well before my deadline.

But who knows what may be going on in my life and what events may get in the way of my writing and of course whether I will encounter creative difficulties which will slow down the pace of my writing.  I will just have to see how things go over the next month or two and take things a day at a time. I need to put myself under some pressure, or nothing gets done, but not too much pressure, as that might stifle the creative process.

I have downloaded and watched three very ‘current’ movies over the past few days.

The first is ‘The Town’ starring Ben Affleck (who also co-wrote and directed) and also has the late, great Pete Postlethwaite in a very scary cameo role, plus Jon Hamm (Madmen) and Jeremy Renner. The ensemble cast are all terrific.  This flick is very good. It’s about the Boston Irish Mafia and full of exciting bank heists, blood and guts, a love interest and inevitably, betrayal. A very enjoyable 2 hours; an exciting ‘roller coaster’ ride. It’s in the tradition of movies like the ‘Goodfellas’ but substitute the New York Mafioso for Boston Irish. I thoroughly recommend it and I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

The second was ‘The Black Swan’ which has received rave reviews from some quarters and the female lead, Natalie Portman, is supposed to be a ‘shoe-in’ for the best actress Oscar.  I personally found it a load of pretentious rubbish, very boring in parts and all in all, very disappointing after all the hype. I know that it originally didn’t receive a good review from the Daily Telegraph, but upon revisiting Telegraph site I find that the leading film critic, who I have a lot of respect for, has since given it a pretty good review. It seems to be one of those films that the critics love and most other people either hate, or are unimpressed with – much like that Thai movie that won the top Cannes award last year. Anyway, unless you are into ‘arty-farty’ films with all kinds of  supposed ‘hidden meanings’ which are beyond most of us ordinary mortals, then I suggest you give it a miss. (Mind you, it does contain some gratuitous lesbian sex !)

The third film was ‘The King’s Speech’.  Despite the rather uninteresting subject matter, much of which has been done to death over the years (The King’s abdication, Wallis Simpson and so forth), this was a veritable ‘tour de force’, mainly due to the inspired acting of Colin Firth in the lead role. His performance was not only a revelation, but it was truly mesmerising and within a short while you couldn’t help but be drawn in and feel immense empathy for this obviously troubled man, with a bad temper, being driven onwards to a destiny he did not seek nor want. It is one of the best acting performances I have ever seen on screen and I hope fervently that he walks off with the Oscar he so richly deserves.  The supporting cast were also good, especially Jeffrey Rush as the Aussie speech impediment guru, Helena Bonham Carter as his wife (Queen) and one of my favourite all time actors, Timothy Spall, in an intriguing cameo role as Winston Churchill. Not all my readers will love this movie, but few will walk out half way through, such is its magnetic power.

That concludes Mobi’s film review and it’s time to get back to my novel….

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