lørdag 20. august 2011
War Report 16.08.2011
I am flaking. Small scraps of skin are falling off around my mouth and down my neck. What could it be this time. The last time my skin flaked, there were some economic advisors that scared me. They just made me more confused, gave bad advice and sent the bill afterwards. This was a few years ago. We were buying a house in a foreign land we did not know. We are still struggling with the complicated system the economic advisors devised. After large bills and some random small bills we rid ourselves of the leeches and my skin stopped flaking.
Now I am flaking again!
Could it be that I am shedding skin like the snake? I am in the midst of my forties, in the so-called menopause. Changes are, apparently, to be expected. In addition it is the middle of March. Menopause and March. Two big changes.
Last evening I took a glass of wine in the bar and looked at the papers. Then I went to the room for a rather early night. I lie half-awake and look around, and I register that I am not at home.
The phone rings.
My husband has listened to the morning news in old Norway. The radio says that 14 million kroner (2.6 million US dollars) and 50 øre (10 cents) have disappeared. The tax authorities cannot find the money. Trial in 4 months.
I am glad the music recording last week was not disturbed by such shocks. Now I am meeting with the accountant. My thoughts are about numbers. Then, afterwards, it is homeward on a plane.
Back home again, we will, together with the lawyer, find out of this. We knew beforehand that the deposit was fine. (The district attorney’s fantasies about the repayment came as a surprise during the trial).
They don’t want conversation.
They want performance.
If a society has too much bread, and bullfighting and cockfights have been outlawed, well then society demands a performance with humans in the arena. The individualist should be hunted down psychologically. Now it is time for middle-aged men. Okay.
But back to the remaining 14 million. We ask the lawyer. He prattles. We try to understand the thick manuscript from the police, but give up. We look at the last pages and try again to understand, but no. It is not possible. Two lawyers work for us. One of them and I, go to Iceland together. Hunting.
We have a meeting with an accountant who promises to send the papers within 10 days. It is just 5 weeks until the trial. The Accused has given me the task of finding out where in the account books the missing amount is, or should have been.
In hindsight we have understood that our lawyer believed more in the prosecuting authorities than in us. Maybe he thought that the Taxpayer put the millions in his pocket and went to a nightclub while I sat at home with 4 little children. The lawyer will of course spare me from this knowledge as long as possible. I am the Virgin Mary who is married to Death. Thinks the lawyer. Virgins must be saved. I can get no information out of him.
Ten days pass. Most Icelanders saddle on one day and ride the next. That is if they don’t have the devil at their heels. And they don’t. We do! We are in a panic and we are practically phone-terrorizing the lawyers. We want to know now!
Then it arrives.
Several checks were cashed in a Norwegian bank, but they have not been reported for taxation.
“When?” we ask.
The lawyer needs some time to investigate this.
Is this possible? Even as late as the 90’ one did not withdraw such large amounts of cash in a Norwegian bank. My husband is wondering if he has been a Mr. Hyde without knowing. But he is certain that everything was deposited in the account.
The same evening Taxpayer steps on the dog as he crosses the kitchen floor. The dog had come between the robe and the feet in the hopes that a piece of food might fall to the floor. Cosette screams. I scream because the dog screams. We all stand there, fear struck and staring at each other.
The next morning we go to New York. It is June and the first year without a bonfire on St. Hans (Midsummer’s Eve). Our 14 yearlong tradition is broken. The yearly workshop in New York the day before Midsummer makes it impossible to return home in time. The youngest of the children is certain that we will never celebrate St. Hans again.
Two travel-days and two workshop-days in the city above all cities. The whole time 14 millions float like butterflies in front of the eyes of us both. Back home again we receive news of the dates when the checks were registered. We go to our papers and find the amounts on our bank statements. Everything is there. We then send this to both our lawyers, with the message that all the money that goes into a Norwegian bank is automatically reported and registered as income by both an accountant and tax authorities.
The missing amounts are found.
They have never been missing!
Why did the tax authorities and the police add to these amounts?
We live in a time where everything is open. Any one can write what he or she wants. Blog or homepage. It is even free. But it is difficult to get articles published in newspapers. The young know nothing of this, because in their lifetime it has always been this way. But someone in the middle of their forties or more, has experienced that it was once easy to get an article in print in a major newspaper, as long as it was written intelligently. Books are almost impossible to get published now, unless they are about crime or food.
But the word is free…
I can blog…
Then my blog can be shut down. The homepage too.
And the Facebook profile…
Then I don’t exist any more.
Maybe you will not find my blog the next time you try…
The trial is set to August 2. The court is still on vacation as are most people at that time. Oslo and Norway were attacked 10 days before the trial began. It was a political attack that killed about 80 people. The country is in an uproar. The highest authorities give orders about democracy and openness. But many know that now is the time to keep quiet. It is silent on the streets this morning. But the journalists need new material and they are ready at the courthouse.
The Accused should state his full name and his income for last year.
The Prosecutor and the Defense Attorney grill the Accused, each in their own turn.
The same speeches over and over, like a carousel. 450 000 dollars sit upon a horse while 325 000 dollars are pushed around by the dolphin. The carousel turns all day. Witnesses come in and go out. The judge wants a break, the carousel stops for a moment. The Prosecutor, with her piercing in her left eyebrow, allows herself to be interviewed and photographed in the lunch break.
Then it begins again.
The journalists are sitting front row on the pillow-covered benches with their PCs in their laps. They write an article, which is published immediately. The next day it is quiet on the steps up to the courthouse. The dogs have been fed.
I sit down at the back of the room on the hard church bench (without pillows) together with our sons. The Accused is sketching. Several good ideas are noted and drawn while the carousel goes round and round.
At the time when the first news arrived of a destroyed painting, Taxpayer was distressed, the kind of distress you feel when you hear the burglar on the ground floor is on his way up the stairs. But when news arrived of the second and third painting, he laid prostrate and stayed in his bed for three whole days. He lay there and realized that 10 year’s production would be lost, slowly but surely. He lay there and understood why. The mastic that he and his students had experimented with was not good. Later, he realized that the mastic probably was from young trees and not from old trees like it always had been before… Because of this the resin triggers a meltdown …
When the Accused rose on the third day, he had decided to re-paint all the paintings from this decade. Without the mastic of course. I imagine he threw all the mastic in the trash that night. I remember a student a few years later who was curious about this oil mix. Odd paled and told him that he should never ask about that again nor should he ever think about it again.
The tax department’s interest in us was based on the fact that there were 2 editions of some paintings. This authority, an authority that is supposed to help the citizens, thought that Odd had painted the pictures a second time in order to make money. They thought he was a crook.
We return to the carousel.
The horse passes with his numbers, sometimes in dollars, sometimes in kroner. Then the dolphin comes with the number 325 000 dollars on his back. The Prosecutor thinks that this amount has been far down in Europe on its travels, in an illegal bank. The dolphin is ashamed.
The Dolphin’s visit to Luxemburg was an illegal visit, claims the Prosecutor. The judge’s remark that the bank was Icelandic the prosecutor must accept. Still the Prosecutor dragged up Luxemburg again and again. Luxemburg is now on the carousel and sits on a pig that is round and merry.
And then we have the bank box. The bank box, the bank box.
The carousel goes round and round. The bank box sits on the lap of a pirate who is grinning.
Then a dry little human from the tax office appears. She tells of questions that were sent to the Taxpayer years, and years ago. They received a reply, but they still sent more questions. This might bring to mind the king who wanted to give away the princess and half the kingdom to the one who managed to get water at the world’s end. But as soon as the boy managed his task, the king came up with more tasks.
Then a special auditor arrives. He has probably used half a work year to examine the Accused’s activities in spooky foreign lands. He seems like he is impressed by the speeches presented by the carousel. Maybe he is a lover of painting. Maybe he buys paintings on the sly.
He talks for a long time. But when he finally says that no irregularities were found, the prosecutor interrupts and wants a brake.
Witnesses arrive and tell of paintings, from a 10-year period, which dissolved and were destroyed. Owners demanded recompense either in the form of pictures or money. In a small country with poor systems for that kind of problem, an employer from a bigger country must step in.
A deposit is the solution.
The prosecutor delivers her long closing statement and suggests 2 years imprisonment.
We go 4 months back in time:
The week after the 14 million and 50 øre were on the morning news in old Norway, our children were met with peering eyes and direct questions.
One of our children said to his classmate:
“No, that’s not right. It is they who owe us money.”
In December last year a large bill arrived from the tax authorities and it had to be paid within 10 days. If we did not pay they would take collateral in property and in addition a 9% interest.
Then it turned out that the millions were “found” and reported to the tax authorities and the tax was paid.
In other words it is the government that owes us money…
We have paid double tax, that is, we have paid 100% for a very large amount…
If the Prosecutor has it her way, the Accused can never go to the USA to teach and have workshops. Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA)…The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA)…New York Academy of Art…The USA denies entry to all prior convicts.
So there might by a St. Hans celebration next year after all. But it will never be the same.
translated by Therese Sjøvoll