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You can't argue with Billy the Quid!
TREASURY Minister David Gauke’s criticism that it’s morally wrong to pay traders in cash wouldn’t have gone down well with Billy the Quid.
Now I got to know Billy when I was involved in the building trade for a while back in the 1980s. He earned the sobriquet because he was a cowboy builder who always demanded cash for work.
He did a few jobs for me and we always ended up tussling over the method of payment. Whenever I offered him a cheque, he would shake his head disdainfully as if I’d suggested he should spend an evening at the ballet, eat salad or vote Conservative.
“Nay lad,” he would say. “Readies is all I work for.”
He mentioned ‘readies’ a lot, as in ready money, but he was also known to use expressions like ‘dosh’ and ‘spondulicks’ when it came to debating modes of payment.
On the rare occasions I mentioned the ‘t’ word, he would glare as if I’d uttered a most disgusting expletive.
Once, when I felt particularly brave, I pointed out to Billy that we all had to make a contribution to wider society and one of the ways of doing that was to pay taxes.
I’ll never forget his reply because it was oddly logical.
It went something like this: “I’m a worker, a smoker, a drinker and I run a bloody big van, all of which makes me an asset to the nation. As a smoker and a drinker and a big van runner I pay a lot of VAT and excise duty. If you paid me by cheque, I’d have to declare my income to the Revenue. They would tax me; then I’d have less money in my pocket to spend on beer, fags and diesel, which would reduce the amount I was already contributing to schools, hospitals and other services.
“Now where’s the bloody sense in that!”