![FB_IMG_1568190903662.jpg](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQmP9aZogSpEmUTwLfZ7kbVFwhtTAkjfPBGsLu3HzvVYjRR/FB_IMG_1568190903662.jpg) (This is not a story meant to encourage or condone tax evasion. I have nothing against taxes, in principle. I could probably say a few things about how they're collected and how they're spent.. but I wont..) Spent all day on the road today, burning petrol in the August heatwave, burning money and wasting time. Doing my bit to heat the planet and keep the wheels of the system well oiled.. Thought I'd save some money and get some wood for guitar making delivered from Spain to England and have my son bring it back on his return from a visit there. Much more straightforward (or at least cheaper) than having it sent straight to Israel.. the postage would have been extortionate because Israel's not part of the EU and also customs seize almost everything coming into the country and hold it to ransom almost every time. Of course, when they saw him wheeling the box through 'nothing to declare', they pulled him over and seized it then, taking it away to some holding place where they'd process the paperwork. I'd have to come back again at a later date to collect it. Quite annoying, as it's a long drive from my home, on top of the fact that I've already paid tax on it, to the Spanish government, or the European Union.. I don't know how these things work.. where the money goes, or who gets it, or how it gets spent. Today, I had a relatively free day. I would have preferred to spend it in the quiet of my studio, carving the mandolin I'm making, but the forces of beurocracy had other plans for me today.. Nicole, my sometimes trusty satellite navigator with an impeccable BBC accent directed me down from the winding and forested country road in Galilee where I live, to the big new toll road.. under the all-seeing eyes of the camera bridges which read your number plate and send you the bill.. onto the eight lane highways and tunnels that lead to the steaming, heaving, burning heart of the country, with its sulphurous haze, high rise urban sprawl and clogged arterial trunk roads and bypasses. At a motorway service station, I put 200 shekels of petrol in the tank. I don't know how much of that was tax and how much pure, refined fossil fuel. Over at the diesel pump, great big military vehicle.. some kind of generator on an 8 wheel truck all painted dull green was filling up too. I figured they probably don't have to pay to fill up. It just goes on the tab. I drive past vast new developments of 10 and twenty story apartment blocks, springing up in clusters like some kind of giant human batteries. I wonder who has the money to build that kind of thing, while other people can barely afford the rent of the smallest flat in one of them. Finally, Nicole directs me into the airport complex. The parts we don't usually get to see unless we work in that industry. Past huge aircraft hangars, industrial warehouses, office buildings, roundabouts and car parks.. I find my way eventually, through corridors, security checks and fire doors to a little room with a bored looking man, a cheap desk and a computer. The customs man. He looks at me with glazed eyes, and maybe a hint of amusement, then looks at his computer. 'What's in it? Wood for making guitars? Why don't you just buy them ready made?' I roll my eyes, shrug and say 'it's just what I do..' all the while wondering how he does what he does.. what do all the people in these little rooms do all day long? There are so many of them. After going through the paperwork and creating some more, I agree to pay the 250 shekel ransom to get my parcel back. He sends me to another place where they're holding my precious box of wood. After driving round and round in circles looking for parking, I find the place. By this time I'm dripping with sweat and my telephone is almost on fire.. Nicole's having a meltdown. Before I can see my parcel, I have to hand over an additional 120 shekel holding fee to a sarcastic woman behind a glass panel. 'You folks make it very hard for someone with a small business to prosper', I tell her angrily. She smiles and nods in agreement and then directs me to a warehouse, somewhere vaguely out the back.. The warehouse is like that scene at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.. boxes and boxes as far and almost as high as the eye can see.. fork lift trucks whizzing about, moving them from one place to another, bringing in more. Trucks lined up to bring in siezed contraband in or take it out after it's been duly (and often doubly) taxed. I hand over the papers to a jovial, almost sympathetic, tired looking religious man in a flourescent jacket. He hands it to someone else who's standing about, chatting with some other workers. A few minutes later my box of wood appears, a bit knocked about but fairly unscathed. I wish him a pleasant day, lug it across the car park in the swealtering heat, load it in the car, pay 16 shekels for the parking and gratefully make my getaway, back to the hills. All of that could have been a very annoying experience. In fact it was, but all the while, I had the consoling thought that at least I wasn't an Irish peasant at the time of the potato famine, when English customs men siezed by force and by paperwork every last scrap of food from that occupied land, causing millions to either starve to death or abandon their home. And at least I don't have to pass through checkpoints every day of my life, being held up at every turn, by bored, sarcastic or even apologetically friendly bureaucrats, jobniks and jobsworths, with their paperwork.. sometimes with, sometimes without guns. At least it's only one box of wood and not my house or land that's being taken, by force or by paperwork, and at least I got it back.