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Jeremy Taxman: Ex-Newsnight Heartthrob’s First Day at the HMRC

Twenty-five years working any job surely brings about a sense of monotony unfelt by those more erratic surfers of the labour market. Being the sole focus of millions of eyes and ears for three quarters of an hour, five nights a week, must be, to put it acutely: bloody intense. But did anyone ever really have any sympathy for Paxman? When it comes to the former Newsnight presenter, lending an ear to the Vox Populi of the day will often demonstrate far more confusion than it will pity.

As I walked around the streets of central Birmingham, asking the locals for their slant on old Jeremy, many just thought I was referring to Pax Britannica; the romantic heyday of British global hegemony.. Others responded along the lines of “Paxo you mean? I only really buy it around Christmas time but it always does the job, I wouldn’t stick anything else up a dead Turkey’s posterior unless I absolutely had to” – a number of these crazy characters ended up tangenting into a mood I call: Why On Earth Don’t We Eat Stuffing All Year Round.

After salivating a lot, and subsequently demolishing an untimely Christmas dinner, I returned to my mission and pondered the Paxman barometer. Just one solitary Birminghammer out of a good few hundred had actually been able to provide me with any relevant information; waving a rolled up newspaper in the air and brandishing Paxman an “old git” – mind you, I’m at least forty-five percent sure that this so-called Brummie was actually just Evan Davies sporting a dodgy fake moustache and a poorly impersonated Midlands accent. Now look, I wasn’t expecting to stumble across a Jeremy Paxman fanclub meeting in a local pub or anything silly like that, but I must say I was struck by the fact that basically no-one seemed to know – or care – about him.  

New Newsnight host and national “nice-guy” Evan Davies might have a vested interest in tarnishing Paxman’s legacy

However, even if nobody else is interested in him, I’ve decided that I am, and that you should be, which is why I bring you today the first of a short series of reports called Life After Newsnight, where in the absence of any restraining order thus far placed against me, I follow Paxman around, seeing what he’s been up to since quitting the Newsnight hot seat.

It turns out that between presenting University Challenge and being spotted shamelessly playing golf with Nigel Farage, old JPax has recently landed a job as a debt collector at Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. 

There he is!

I was lucky enough to catch up with Jez after his first nine hours of robbing hard working families to fund Trident. He was running quite fast, but I’ve got about fifty years on him. It was no match in the end. As I rugby tackled him to the ground, he let out a low, wispy moan. “Who on god’s great-” the poor old sod cried feebly. I paused for a moment. I was mounted on top of, and clutching Jeremy Paxman by the shoulders. Who on god’s great earth do I think I am? I wondered. I told him I’d come to find out how his first day at the HMRC had been, and that I wouldn’t dismount him until he gave me every small detail. Under duress, he complied with my request, providing an intimate blow-by-blow account of his first day as a tax mogul, which I’ll helpfully reiterate from a chatty, third person person perspective:

7am: Paxman wakes up. Drinks an indiscernible quantity of green tea straight from the kettle on his bedside table. 

7:45am: After laying in bed in the dark and playing DoodleJump like it’s 2009, Paxman finally flops himself out of bed. Was it the wrong side of bed? We’ll find out later. 

7:49am: Paxo in the shower. Belting out ‘Heart of Glass’ by Blondie at the top of his voice. Fair play Jez! It’s a tune. 

8:10am: After elaborately towel drying his arsehole, gooch, cock and bollocks in front of his dog, Paxman gets ready for work. Green tweed suit. What about shoes? Running shoes? “Why would I possibly need those?” Paxman chuckles to himself, putting on a pair of loafers instead.

8:25am: Paxman’s private helicopter arrives. The pilot? Former chancellor of the exchequer, Ed Balls. Balls is standing in front of the helicopter, holding a sign saying “Jeremy” with a childishly drawn love heart next to his name. 

Ed Balls: fancies Paxman

8:33am: After eight minutes of stony silence, Balls attempts to woo Paxman with a bit of small talk. Paxman, as if pre-prepared for this very situation, quickly draws a rubber duck from his pocket and shoves it in Balls’ mouth, telling him to “shut his stupid ugly face”. 

8:54am: After twenty-one minutes of painful, rubber-duck induced silence, Balls’ chopper pulls up outside the HMRC headquarters. Paxman turns to Balls, kisses him firmly on the lips, and exits the helicopter without a word. Balls is left to nurse an awkward semi-erection after being lipsed by one of his idols. 

8:57am: Having nursed an awkward erection of his own back to a socially acceptable level of flaccidity, Paxman trudges, wide eyed, through the golden gates of HMRC HQ. 

8:57am: Those aren’t golden gates… they’re revolving doors! 

9:08am: Having waited for several minutes outside what he thought to be the reception desk,  a slightly senile Paxman realises he is simply standing in front of a painting of a reception desk. A receptionist, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Lenny Henry, politely taps him on the shoulder before showing him to his new office. 

This is what the receptionist looked like

9:20am: After talking about the weather, the kids and whether or not pineapple goes well on pizza, the Lenny Henry-looking receptionist turns swiftly on his heel, finally leaving Paxman to his own devices. Hoorah, the office decorating can begin!

10:01am: Bloody hell. How many consecutive times can a man hum the same little bit of Heart of Glass to himself? 

10:38am: Brunchtime. A bhuna baguette tastes best in a freshly furnished office.

11:01am: Paxman leans back on his luxurious office chair, letting out a sigh of smug satisfaction at the sheer quantity of self portraits he’s managed to plaster all over the office walls.

11:03am: Darth Vader walks into the office. Oh wait, that’s not actually Darth Vader – it’s just a bloke in a mask. He introduces himself simply as “Englebert” and dumps a heap of tax evasion assignments on Paxman’s desk. Englebert, still masked, bids Paxman farewell with a curt nod of the head, a poundshop Nazi-salute and the words “to infinity and beyond!”. 

11:05am: A perplexed Paxman decides – for the sake of his dwindling sanity – to stop contemplating whether he’s just met Darth Vader, Adolf Hitler or Buzz Lightyear. “Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs needs me!”, he thinks to himself.

(From left to right) Buzz Lightyear, Adolf Hitler and Darth Vader; are they really so different?

1:00pm: A relatively uneventful couple of hours on the phone chasing up petty criminals ends with an abrupt announcement, positively bellowed through the HMRC office’s world-beating tannoy system – “’LUUUUUNCHTIME! LADIES, GENTLEMAN, PIGS AND DONKEYS, STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING IMMEDIATELY AND RELAX FOR PRECISELY ONE HOUR.”. An hour for lunch? “Cracking”, thinks Paxman, who thinks of cracking some eggs into a frying pan. 

1:08pm: Oh Jezza. The poor sod thought there would be an in house kitchen, free-to-use for staff. Alas, it transpires that HMRC runs a canteen or bring-in-a-sandwich-from-home system. How will Paxman boil his butterbeans now?

1:36pm: The horses are on the track. The unboiled butterbeans (alongside some uncooked, unchopped cloves of garlic and and a splash of Waitrose finest black pepper) are on a Journey to The Centre of Jeremy Paxman’s Intestines.

2:00pm: “PAXMAN, YOU FAT GIT, STOP EATING!” bellows the tannoy. 

2:01pm: A marginally fatter Paxman decants his portly self from the cleaning cupboard in which he was wolfing down his raw butter beans, and slithers pudgily back into his office. 

2:03pm: “Right!, time to get down to some soon-to-be-finished monkey beeswax!” he belches to himself, opening once again the tax evasion case files. 

5:20pm: “Well that’s at least a few lives of innocent women and children in the Middle East I’ve funded the killing of today”, thinks Paxman. Job done. Jolly good. 

5:22pm: Paxman quickly nips to the bog on his way out. 

5:57pm: After another session of sitting on the John in the disabled cubicle playing Doodlejump, Paxman flushes an unsoiled toilet for credibility and exits the bathroom without washing his hands. 

6:03pm: Rugby tackled to the ground by a man about thrice as young as him wearing a bow tie, a short-sleeve shirt and a fluffy Russian hat. The man mounts him and demands he deliver a blow-by-blow account of his first day at Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.

All good things come to an end eventually

Damn. And just as I finish the write up, a little birdie tells me that Paxman has left HMRC by mutual consent; an alleged telephone bust-up regarding a minimum-wage-earning taxpayer’s uniform washing allowance. Paxman apparently just “wouldn’t let it go” – taking matters into his own hands and organising a mercenary SWAT team to raid the tax-evading burger-flipper’s residence. On an unrelated (?) note, softwood stocks have shot up over the past few days.  In the next edition of Life After Newsnight then, we’ll be bringing you ‘Jeremy Axeman: Former BBC Jerk and Eminent Opportunist Quits the HMRC Amid Soaring Timber Prices’ – TTFN, folks. 

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