Squirrel Scam

This morning – Brexit morning – I was cycling to work when a squirrel crossed my path, carrying another squirrel in its mouth. I assumed it was some sort of omen, something about Britain cannibalising itself. But it seems the second squirrel might have been the baby of the first, and that carrying one’s young in one’s mouth is an emblem not of a cannibalistic Britain but of a warm and furry and nurturing Britain struggling to get across a busy road and a bit wild-eyed in consequence.

The world is a dangerous place, as I fear we are about to find out. Yesterday evening I was on the wrong end of a phishing email, purportedly from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. Here is the mail:


In a spirit of hands-across-the-ocean co-operation and fair-play, I was moved to reply, as follows:

May I suggest ‘You have’ for ‘You’ve’ and ‘We have recalculated’ for ‘We have recalculate’. Also ‘If you want’ is very direct and informal. You should try something a little more polished, such as ‘Should you wish to’. ‘Determinated’ should, as I am sure you are aware, read ‘determined’ (an easy mistake to make, over-generalising from ‘determination’). Further, ‘If you will…’ is grammatically incorrect in this case. You also insert a stray space before a comma, on two occasions. Oh, and the day the tax office addresses me as ‘Hi ferrisjt’ is the day I declare myself an independent state and dig a moat around my house and get myself a little cannon.

HMRC does many things wrong, but it writes OK English, in the main.

Good luck with your otherwise first-rate scam.

I think there is probably a good opening for an editor of scam emails in our Brave New Brexuent World, and I advertise my services accordingly.