VAT Rate changes – more work for the printing industry, more non revenue generating office work for me

Great*, The VAT Rate has changed from 17.5% to 15%.

*Great as in, I’m not sure if I like it or not!

I think that may actually help the economy but for a different reason to what Alistair Darling may expect…. it means that all of our printed price lists will be out of date in less than a week so will have to be reprinted – anyone want to by shares in a printing business?

For my business that’s not too bad because we print our own price lists as we need them. Several of our suppliers though provide price books – one of which only changed their prices in October and normally they plan at least 6 months before the next price change.

So, what happens? Well, I imagine they will announce a price increase for the 1st December which just happens to be in line with the reduction in VAT. If they don’t it means paper and ink sales will suddenly increase next month, graphic designers will have the fun job of updating each individual price.

I get the fun job of updating all of our computer code – the chances are high that somewhere is a hard coded calculation on VAT so every price update I do from now will need to be checked, even if I automated the update routine. Seriously, I doubt that every product in sainsbury’s or Tesco’s will fall by the VAT difference – why should they change the price on the shelf? They’ll leave it the same and make a little more profit.

Our customers will benefit, the guidance on the HMRC web site is that we can credit and reinvoice at the new rate any products that we have not delivered before 1st December. They’ll get a refund if they’ve paid already or owe less when the job is finished. I still have to go through each sales order though, yet more time lost in paperwork. Hey ho, at least we’ve had a really good November and maybe the thought of cheaper prices will encourage more people to go out shopping.

Anyway, in case you are wondering what the difference actually means;
117.50 including VAT = 100 excluding VAT = 115.00 at the 15% VAT RATE
100 including VAT = 85.11 excluding VAT = 97.87 at the 15% VAT RATE
So, for every 100 you’ll save 2.12p using the new rate.

To work it out using a calculator to get the excluding VAT rate, divide by 1.175.
To add VAT at 15% multiply the ex VAT price by 1.15

Staying Alive (Alexander Fullerton)

Wow! This was a big surprise. The setting is a town in France where the author himself meets with an old lady. She, it is revealed, was the inspiration of the heroine in his earlier 3 books (and there are 3 earlier books which I’ll now start looking out for). Rosie was a special agent during the war and this story is about her first mission, the one mission the author couldn’t have written about because his source didn’t know about it. Best of all, there is a twist at the end which I’ll not tell you lest I spoil it.

I tend to like books where a history is revealed. In this book we hear not only of Rosie’s struggles to survive as an undercover agent but also of what happened to her after the war, right up to the present day or in this case, right up to the reason she is talking to an author in a small French town, attending a re-union of the few remaining resistance and special operations staff that still survive after 60 years.

Rootie Rating 4 out of 5, time to go and find the other 3 books in this series.

2001 A Space Odyssey (Arthur C Clarke)

Strangly, I haven’t seen the film. Or at least, I haven’t seen the film all the way through. Part of me has always felt that having seen the film the book is not worth reading. Part of me has always felt that having read the book the film is not worth seeing. I know, that’s wrong, and I’m so glad I picked up this story.

It’s unusual in that it’s made of many short chapters, 47 in all. We follow the story from the discovery on the mood of a ‘monolith’ and the journey to reach a small moon around Jupiter.. or was it Saturn, I’ve always mixed those two planets up. Anyway the journey has some eventful things happen which many of you will already know. The computer, known as HAL behaves in a way that was not predicted by the programmers but quite logical in hindsight.

This book was a very easy read, not difficult to follow. Having read 3001 first didn’t reduce the enjoyment of this book one iota.

Rootie Rating 4 out of 5 – enjoyable epic

The Malacia Tapestry (Brian Aldiss)

Having enjoyed other Brian Aldiss stories I thought I’d give this one a try even though the cover was a bit off putting. I know, you should never judge a book by it’s cover, but the monster on the front, man with cloak, beautiful woman in graceful dress, made for a pretty accurate impression.

This book is a fantasy, set either in the distant imaged future or distant imagined past. We follow an actor as he lives his life within the small city, making ends meet, meeting and seducing attractive women, endeavouring to leave the working classes and become part of the ruling classes. The story is inventive, the description brings the city and strange animals to life in vivid detail. It has a quality of realism that works surprisingly well with the fantasy background.

This isn’t the sort of book I’d normally read but it more than held my attention, I couldn’t wait to turn the next page. Rootie Rating 3 out of 5 – Fantasy is not my thing but the writing style saved it.

Rotary – Club visit 7 to Faversham

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There are two Rotary clubs near me that meet on a Monday evening. One is “Canterbury Forest of Blean“, the other is “Faversham“. A couple of weeks ago I decided at short notice to visit Faversham. I hadn’t phoned or called anyone before going, I just took the chance they’d have space for one more. I arrived to the busiest club I’d seen for a long time – there must have been 50 people present. Strange I thought, I’m sure the club directory said they had 20 or so members, so where did all the extra people arrive from? It turns out all of the Rotary Club of Ashford were visiting and there was a presentation on the work of the Princes Trust.

Things learnt from this visit:

  • The Princes Trust still work with 14-30 year olds as I remember from growing up. They still have some business start up support but also run courses developing skills for young people without formal qualifications. They are particularly keen to recruit volunteer adult mentors, especially experienced business owners and managers.
  • The Faversham club have a strong twinning with a club in Germany (or was it Austria? I forget) and every year they all meet up at a Ski resort
  • The main project for them is the provision of 3 trailers that visit different schools. I can’t remember the aim of those trailers, but I do remember seeing it at our local school and both my children looking forward to the visit. This is another good example of where a club is providing a service in the community more than just raising money for other charities

Rotary – 1120 District Conference – Other things

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After the speakers (well, between really, on the Saturday night) was the ‘ball’. An excuse to get dressed up in a dinner suit and have a mass produced meal that would have been prepared several hours before it reached me. Still, I don’t enjoy dinners for the food, I enjoy it for the company. I didn’t know for certain Rhonda and I would get into the ball as we booked so late (by Rotary standards, quite soon for my mind as a new Rotarian). We were lucky though, but our late entry put us on a table with people from other clubs. To me, that was a bonus. It’s not that I don’t want to be with my club, I love them dearly but I’m sure they’re bored of my conversation by now and if not they’ve got the Christmas meal where I can bore them further. I still haven’t learnt about all the formality of these things. When the announcement was made Gentlemen may now remove their jackets it was pure luck I still had mine on I would have removed it earlier if it wasn’t comfortable. The other confusing thing to me was a string of announcments along the lines of The District Governer John Wilton would like to drink wine with……. Fine, go and drink wine with them but I really don’t need to know you’ve just interupted the person I was listening to on our table. Perhaps there is a purpose to that announcment, maybe it reminds us who the important visitors are.

I also took the opportunity to meet some other people at the ball. Lyn Mitchell who’s been suffering some of my many questions about Rotary membership, she’s an Assistant Governer and in her club Chair of service projects like I am for my club.

Ian Thompson, president of RIBI, also suffered my questions because of something he said during his presentation. I need to find his email address to get the rest of the answer. The question was essentially, What proportion of the population should be in Rotary?, I want to know what the informed view is as to how big Rotary should be in the UK. His answer, the first person who’s actually given an answer, was 100% of all the eligible population should be in Rotary. I now have to find out just how many people are eligible.

At the end of the weekend, I’m sure I’ll be going to the next one. The best part of all being not each individual presentation, but the opportunity to meet so many different people all united by one cause. Speaking over lunch, speaking over dinner, speaking to another club member while we both served as stewards, it’s meeting with so many different people that I enjoyed most. Next year, the conference is off to Brighton so the challenge is set to see what can be achieved before then by our new Rotary club.

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This entry is last entry in a series about my visit to the Rotary District Conference. It might not make much sense on it’s own, why not start at the first post and read all the way through.
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Rotary – 1120 District Conference – Rotarian Dr Geoff McKay presentation

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This is one of the best presentations I’ve seen for a long time, so that’s two phenomenal presenations over the course of one weekend! I was worried at first, there was no title in my original programe and I really had no idea on what the topic would be. Some tired, aged Rotarian on an obscure detail of Rotary perhaps?

Geoff began by standing behind the lecturn, a slow introduction, tediously slow first presentation slide of his name coming up, the longest possible introduction ‘President of this, presedent of that…..’ and eventually ‘ and my fellow Rotarians’. Then the pace changed, he said ‘ photo! ‘ and dashed to the side as a photographer was taking a picture. Returning he said ‘Sorry, I didn’t want the microphone to be in the way of the shot’, which had most of us in laughter the joke being he was clearly larger than the microphone stand.

It got better from there on, video clips of silly things being used to highlight different points of his presentation. Covering all the good things of Rotary in his, if I rememember, 20 years of service. Dressing up as Father Christmas, helping build things in third world countries, meeting a myriad of different people united by the objects of rotary.

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The presentation was both motivating and entertaining. He said that Rotary needs to change today as it has always changed with time in the past. We, as Rotarians, need to tell people what we are doing and invite them to our clubs not for the boring bits of ‘business meetings’ but to the events and activities we organise. The long term future of Rotary as an organisation is up to us as members today. He did the best presentation gesture I’ve seen for many years. At the back of the stage, hanging from wires was a large Rotary emblem. During the part he was telling us that we could make a difference he took some paces back, pushed the emblem so it started swining and said Look even I can move Rotary, to great appluase from the audience.

I read later the topic he was speaking on was Laughter to the end! , pretty accurate then.

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This entry is part of a series about my visit to the Rotary District Conference. It might not make much sense on it’s own, why not start at the first post and read all the way through.
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Rotary – 1120 District Conference – Yellowmen of Kadongdong presentation

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The Yellowmen of Kadongdong was a short presentation by a club called Senlac from Sussex. Their members have worked on building a health clinic in Kenya. It really is quite inspring to see what a group of people can achieve when they work on it. It’s also nice for me to see the variety of club activities and ‘service projects’. This club has made a big difference to the international community in the same way other clubs have made a big difference to their local communities. As time goes on, I wonder what our club will achieve, maybe there’ll be a group of Canterbury Sunrise members on stage in 10 years time, inspriing members of a new club not yet imagined.

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This entry is part of a series about my visit to the Rotary District Conference. It might not make much sense on it’s own, why not start at the first post and read all the way through.
<--- Previous Post or Next Post in this series —>
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Rotary – 1120 District Conference – Orpheus Centre & Richard Stilgoe presentation

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Orpheus centre with Richard Stilgoe. I have vague memories of Richard Stilgoe on TV. Circle of children around and to the side of him. Guitar maybe, piano or organ. I can’t recall any of his music but imagine he was once quite famous.

Today, he runs the Orpheus centre providing an education for a few 18-21 year old disabled students. They skills they teach are about self sufficiency, the things I would take for granted like paying the gas bill his school will teach. They also use music and drama as a tool to build self confidence and we were treated to a performance by 4 students. It really was a treat. Richard would accompany them on his keyboard but they would sing and play instruments adapted to meet their needs. At the end, they had the whole theatre singing along to an upbeat song they’d written, they had us doing the actions too.
Orpheus is a school to be proud of, making a real and visible difference to the lives of people in our community, teaching skills we don’t (can’t?) measure with any standard of GCSE or A level grading system.

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This entry is part of a series about my visit to the Rotary District Conference. It might not make much sense on it’s own, why not start at the first post and read all the way through.
<--- Previous Post or Next Post in this series —>
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Rotary – 1120 District Conference – Graham Clarke presentation

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Graham Clarke. A true English eccentric! Said the person sitting next to me in the Auditorium. I couldn’t put it better myself, so I’ll use those words verbatim. Graham entertained for 20 minutes, changing hats, telling his stories and poetry, playing some sort of mouth organ as a divider between scenes. I first heard of Graham about 5 years ago from his books and watercolour pictures. I gather he is a Rotarian in the maidstone area and his paintings feature on this years club directory, the confernce guide and I believe a calendar that is being sold. I’ve always liked his pictures for their simple, childlike detail that looks so simple yet I imagine would be so hard to create effectively.

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This entry is part of a series about my visit to the Rotary District Conference. It might not make much sense on it’s own, why not start at the first post and read all the way through.
<--- Previous Post or Next Post in this series —>
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