24 Dec 2008

Do You Celebrate Christmas?

This is the question I’ve been asked hundreds of times in the past few weeks. Yes, European people are interested if we do so. As now I’ve almost got used to the same question, I would just answer “Yes, we do, particularly the young people and families with kids. Yeah, it’s a bit funny cos most of us are not Christians at all. I actually don’t care, although I used to celebrate when I was young.”

In fact, this is the very first Christmas for me in the UK! In the past three years I was always in Japan. For some reason, I had to go to the very quiet office this afternoon, and I’ve realised the town was really quiet. Yeah, Christmas is the time people stay with their family.

I just wanted to say that since I came to London, I started feeling strange about the attitude of Japanese people about Christmas. You don’t have to feel lonely even if you’re alone on the Christmas day. Just meet your family in the new year, that’s all you have to do!

So, I’m just having some champagne myself, at home. And tomorrow, I’m gonna visit my Japanese friends living nearby and we’re gonna have some nice Christmas dinner! Yeah, I don’t really care… but I actually care!

1 Dec 2008

Unexpected Bonus

It’s not from my company, but from HM Revenue and Customs. I’ve just realised I’ve been overpaying income tax since I’ve changed my job an year ago!

Due to the huge and sudden drop of British Pound (200 yen to 140 yen in just two month!!) I was now in a very very difficult situation as I’m sending quite a lot of money to Japan almost every month. So, this unexpected bonus is such a good news!

When I changed the job just an year ago, the amount of tax deducted every month had risen very much, but I just thought that was because my wage had risen. However, this weekend, I just happened to see HM’s website and tried to work out why my tax had risen that much. Then, I’ve seen something about Personal Allowance (the non-taxable amount from our salary) and realised I hadn’t got the benefit since I changed my job.

Today I’ve talked with our office manager and he assured he’d try to sort it out. He told me I’ll get some money back with this month’s payment. I’ll also get some money back for the last tax year separately.

Sorry to say this but this is a sort of thing which happens in this country – Japanese people never make such mistakes! But, now I’m really happy with this mess. This is gonna save my life. I’m having a nice wine tonight, first time in two weeks!

(Yes, only two weeks)