Daily Frolic 13: Expiry and taxes

“I knew it, I just knew it!”


“That you have it in for the sadly departed.”

“I have?”

“No, no, I mean British authorities; that settles it!”

“That settles what?”

“Confirming this vile persecutory attitude. After all, it’s not just The Independent – it’s also The Sunday Times!”

“What have you found now?”


 “There is nothing to stop homeowners who have been basic-rate taxpayers all their lives generating higher-rate liabilities when they die.”

 “But I promise you they didn’t mean it like this.”

“So you keep saying; do these newspapers mean anything they say?”

“Naturally, but …”

 “I wouldn’t be so sure.”

“Trust me. And I’d prefer the distributive singular here.”

“Sure: if you have to have such a distributive law, don’t introduce any more.”

“No, no, I’d prefer the singular ‘life’.”

“But they were talking about more than one life.”

“Yes, but I would still use a singular noun. It’s called ‘the distributive singular’ because we interpret it in a plural sense.

“We do?”

“Yep; listen, what I would have written is this.”

“There is nothing to stop the estates of homeowners who have been basic-rate taxpayers all their life incurring higher-rate death liabilities.”

“If you are absolutely sure …”

“Cross my heart and hope to die.”

“Don’t: you might incur higher-rate liabilities!”

“No, no, it’s just a saying. But our esteemed Sunday Times does seem to get a bit muddled over matters pertaining to expiry.”

“I’m not surprised it’s about to expire: writing such tosh.”

“No – not its expiry.”

“How do you mean?”

“Listen to this.”

“We found that provided we could get them started six weeks before death they could recover.”

 “Started on what?”

“Anti-retroviral drugs – for Aids.”

“But … it’s … how… how did they know it would be exactly six weeks? That’s … that’s impossible. Plus, they didn’t die!”

“You don’t say.”

“I do!”

“No, no, it’s another saying. I think that what they were attempting to communicate was this.”

 We found that, provided we could get them started sufficiently early, they could recover.

“A-a-a-a, that’s more like it.”


This post alludes to the quote given in Daily Frolic 12, How Researchers Earn a Living, and published on 12th November 2014.


3 thoughts on “Daily Frolic 13: Expiry and taxes

    • I realise this, Deborah, and must admit to being slightly provocative there. My own discovery of the ‘distributive singular’ was a revelation, but it is actually quite common in English. I have a better example from The Economist, which wrote: “They are the ones who turned blind eyes to the concoction of credit …”. I understand English would favour “who turned a blind eye” – even though this clause has the plural subject. Sorry about this, but I am mad about grammar – how sad is this? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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