Archive for May, 2013

500 Miles


I love this song.

The Seekers do a good, similar, version too.

It always resonated on flights back from Saudi to Dubai.

What doesn’t make sense about Google’s UK tax row


A few things really confuse me about the latest rumpus over Google’s UK tax row. I am as perplexed as Eric Schmidt.

In summary –

– Why is this a surprise to anyone?

– Why did Google make such a hash of explaining things?

Google UK staff sell advertising to UK customers. The customers buy from Google Ireland. Google does things this way as Ireland has low rates of corporation tax. Presumably most European Google business works this way.

Why does this mean MPs get to have another field day, hauling people in front of their committees? This is how hundreds of business work. It’s nothing new.

What really surprised me was Google’s Finance VP making such an odd response. He could have just explained how things work. Instead, his reply sounded evasive and untruthful.

The whole ‘moral’ approach from the MPs involved, especially Margaret Hodge, confuses me. If you don’t like the behaviour, change the law, or reduce corporation tax in the UK. Stop showing off and do something about it.

Sun Microsystems UK had a similar arrangement. I’m sure pretty much every large company does too. If you bought a server from Sun in the UK you would buy from a partner, who would buy from a distributor, who would place an order on Sun Switzerland. Internally, Sun would shuffle money around in the form of budgets commissions, salaries, etc. Presumably Sun chose Switzerland because of it low corporation tax.

What could MPs do? Mandate that if you want to sell something in the UK, you have to have a UK entity that people purchase from and which pays corporation tax? This is probably unworkable. Lower corporation tax? Pandering to evil mega-corps who create employment and wealth in the UK would be a terrible thing to do…

As with my comments on Amazon and Starbucks elsewhere in this blog, the other thing that confuses me is why anyone pays any corporation tax in the UK at all. Surely anyone who can would be setting up a similar model and funnel things through wherever offers the best rate at the time?

Here’s a video of Margaret Hodge showboating for the cameras.

Goodbye, Will


I was shocked to learn that Will Stringer passed away today.

I met Will through Mark Steele, his cousin, who is a friend of ours here in Dubai. Will had been working with the FCO in Oman and Dubai. He joined us on a few trips and evenings out, the most recent being Mark’s stag do, less than a year ago. I liked Will a lot, even though I didn’t see that much of him. One of those people you think would be a good friend if the time and circumstances allowed.

He had been suffering from leukaemia and was back in the UK for treatment. He leaves behind a wife and two small children.

Get well soon, Judith Durham


I was sorry to read that Judith Durham has suffered a stroke.

I hope she gets better soon. I’d love to see her in concert, but I doubt she’ll be coming to Dubai.

ZZ Top in Bethlehem


So ZZ Top make it to Bethlehem but have still not played in Dubai? I think this attitude lets their fans down.

Liquid lunch


This has to be the oddest diet advice I have ever seen on the pages of Gulf News.

Ten litres a day, with little change to diet or exercise?

This chap must have spent most of the day on the loo.

Playing with Picassa


This would be fun on a t-shirt.

Jeep t-shirt.jpg

Flare in Hassi Messaoud


From a trip in 2006.

Driving down a Liwa slipface


From a trip in 2004 – never made it back more than one and a half times after that, despite planning to go every year.

Rockin’ in the rocker