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Donkin's World: Fun, Games, Life, Work And Taxes

"Life is for living. It's not just about earning lots of dosh. And our quality of life is not something to which can be attached some monetary value, no matter how much the Exchequer wishes it was,'' declares Richard Donkin.

It's been a funny old few weeks spent mostly in fishing huts http://donkinonfishing.blogspot.com/2011/04/four-men-in-hut-to-say-nothing-of-dog.html, yacht cabins http://donkinonsailing.blogspot.com/ and wading in various rivers http://donkinonfishing.blogspot.com/. I suppose this is what retirement looks like for people who can't wait for the day. But some of us have no intention of retiring and much of this stuff has involved work.

OK, I know it doesn't look like work, but you have to believe me when I tell you there has been work going on during this time. I've picked up some nice stories and material for my journalism and books. If you're reading this taxman - and I know he does read my blogs - this is how it works. It's something I have tried to explain in books and another blog, The Future of Work. http://www.donkinonwork.blogspot.com/

When I learn a new fly-fishing cast - in this case the Circle C - and I pass it on to other anglers, I'm doing a job and I'm building my expertise which is essential if you seek to write auhoritatively. I had to practice that cast, evaluate its worth, try it on different rods (yeah, right, say friends). The blog gets some of this stuff first as I turn over ideas. "But you don't get paid for your blog," says the taxman. I know he says this because it's been relayed back to me by my tax advisor http://www.blinkhorns.co.uk/home/index.php (who, incidentally, is the kind of advisor who vets my work and expense claims as thoroughly if not more so than the Customs and Revenue. Oh, and I met him on a boat).

This week I'm speaking to people who design super yachts. It helps to have been on one or two of these yachts when you're writing about them. But I'll never own one and it would prey on my conscience if I did. I'm also researching the story of a big fish, probably for the Field or some other magazine if they want it. I photographed it in Kelso and, hopefully, the image will be published in a magazine. It's why I have invested in a good camera and the skills to use it.

I've taken a decision to put my life - or some of it - out in to the blogosphere for public consumption. I cannot help the fact that I have found income streams in some of the things I do for pleasure but it is part of a philosophy of life I have tried to pass on to my children: find something you enjoy doing and find a way to make a living from it.

Life is for living. It's not just about earning lots of dosh. And our quality of life is not something to which can be attached some monetary value, no matter how much the Exchequer wishes it was. I know plenty of wealth-focused people who find little happiness in their jobs. Some have become trapped in a system where they have to earn large sums to service the debts they incur. I'm not blaming them. When you take on a mortgage and send your kids to private school you need to look out for your earnings. But when these debts have been paid it's possible to live on much less. No you can't live on fresh air, but you can taper your work to your needs.

Our two older boys have always enjoyed making puzzles and doing creative things and what do they do now for a living? They make computer games professionally. Rob is already pretty well established http://www.robdonkin.com/ and John is getting there fast with two puzzle games, including one he has done in collaboration with is brother.

They have to play games to find out how they work and to get new ideas. They're having fun in the process but be in no doubt taxman, this is work. It's the new work that links lifestyle, the intrinsic reward of work, and financial reward. It's a kind of work that demands new definitions - not the familiar one of something we would rather not be doing (this is the one that the taxman understands), but something that engages us for much of our waking hours.

I'm worried that the problem for my boys will be to stop themselves working although I've noticed that they are trying to channel their collaborations in to a traditional nine-to-five working day.

I have some new work coming in investigating a spectacular piece of tax evasion involving hundreds of millions of pounds. When I'm ready I'll be happy to hand it over to the tax authorities and that will be a rewarding experience for all of us. Will they share with me the commission they earn in pulling in more tax from these people? I doubt it.

The river holds a lesson for those who work in the Customs and Revenue: it's far more satisfying to go after the big fish.


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