Sunday September 3rd 2017, Hockley Heath, Solihull
Ben Williamson clicked the door of his CD player shut and pressed the play button. The opening bars of Billy Joel’s Piano Man came from the speakers as he sat down in front of his computer and pressed the on button. It was a Sunday morning like all the other Sunday mornings in his life. He was working.
He looked through his to-do list. The first three items were all tax accounts; far too intense to break the day’s duck. The fourth was perfect; annual returns for Smith Brothers, a small two man painting and decorating business in town. Past experience showed they were meticulous in their record keeping. Everything would be in order for him. It would be a simple task to complete the submission.
He hummed along to the music as he opened the previous year’s filing to check where to start. This would be a simple matter. He should have it cleared up in little more than an hour. Behind him, in the main part of the house he heard Gilly start the vacuum cleaner. It was their bargain; her suggestion. She’d hoover the house, take care of the washing and prepare the Sunday lunch while he worked on his private clients. The rest of the housework they shared – unless they could get Naomi interested in helping, which wasn’t often. He adored his daughter but wasn’t blind to her idleness.
Smith Brothers had done well this year. Business was up, even subcontracting some work out, and their books were full. Dave Smith was even thinking of taking on an employee and had asked for advice on handling a payroll system.
It pleased him. They’d been one of his first private clients signing up back in 2007. They’d suffered through the financial crisis; really suffered. He’d been amazed they survived 2009. He scribbled a note on the To Do list so he’d remember to send them his PAYE documentation. He’d be happy to set it up for them but was going to advise them to look for someone who would work self-employed. It would make their lives easier.
He sipped his coffee and started sketching down the numbers long hand – his preferred method. He’d transcribe them to the computer once he was happy with the numbers. An hour later and he was done; accounts completed, ready to submit. The brothers would owe the tax man a little over three thousand pounds. They would be happy with that number. From the bank statements Dave had sent they had the money. Ben entered his password on the government website and got ready to complete the process. But that was as far as he got. Gilly flung open the door of his office. She looked scared stiff.
‘Oh, thank God,’ she exclaimed, falling back against the door of his office.
He got to his feet and made his way to her. She wrapped her arms around him the second he was in reach. ‘What’s up, love?’ he asked.
‘I thought you were dead.’