On the second day of Christmas...


My true love sent to me: two turtle doves. In the original it seems that the turtle doves represent the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.

Pigeon fanciers are outraged after HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) left pigeon racing out of the official list of sports, and they are asking the Queen, who is patron of the Royal Pigeon Racing Association (RPRA), to get this ruling reversed. Why so many ruffled feathers about something apparently so trivial?

Well, it's all about money. Premises used for 'sports' are exempt from the rates, a local-authority tax. Under MHRC proposals to introduce rates on sports clubs and village halls, groups can formally apply for dispensation from HMRC for 80% relief and then to their local authority for a 20% reduction. So pigeon fanciers now face paying rates on their sheds, though officially recognized sports such as yoga, arm-wrestling and trampolining are still exempt.

Doesn't it all speak volumes about just how silly and bird-brained all these tax rules are?