The complexities of the UK’s VAT system keep me in a job, so I'm happy that people are confused on the teacake issue. Funnily enough, plain biscuits are not subject to VAT, only those wholly or partially covered in chocolate. Also, in regards to 7 days 7 questions - you'll pay the tax on your chippies at the weekend as this is the supply of hot takeaway food - so subject to VAT.
Re Mike of Newcastle upon Tyne’s rule that if it can be dunked (Thursday letters), it’s a biscuit: I've just seen a guy in my office buy an oversize mug, filled it with tea and dunk a full quarter of a Victoria sponge in it...
Tony Doyle, Holmes Chapel, UK
My daughter can and
will dunk a sausage in her
drink of orange squash
Can Mike from Newcastle make a determination on its VAT status?
Re cake or biscuit: if it goes soft over time it's a biscuit, if it goes hard it's a cake. All with reference to flour-based sweet snacks, you understand.
John Brown, Belgium
Humph. Frankly anything from M&S Simply Food is a luxury and should be VATed accordingly. Said teacakes are totally covered in chocolate, for heaven's sake. I don't think that was what was envisaged when the original luxuries v essentials list was compiled.
Lucy Jones, Manchester
Monitor pedant note: A teacake is, by its very definition, encased in chocolate – Tunnocks, M&S, the lot. The thought of which does set the tastebuds a-tingle... anyone for a cuppa?
Anyone thinking of visiting the new swingers club in North Devon to enjoy some “sexy fun” (Paper Monitor), be warned: a visit to the website tells you that chewing gum is banned from the premises.
Sue, not North Devon, sadly
Regarding jumbled newspaper giveaways (Paper Monitor), I would imagine an eco-friendly Independent reader would be quite apoplectic if they received the DVD "A Guide to British Tits" from the Sun instead of from their more politically correct newspaper.
Alan Addison, Glasgow, UK
If only the Caption Competition was back (pt 5): Some people were surprised by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s departure from type for the final choice for the part of Oliver.
If only caption competition was back, I’m sure we would be reading: "On the command 'Play with Your Balls', the Household Cavalry immediately turned their backs."
The Therapist, Portsmouth, UK
Re How to Say: I don't know if this *is* within your powers, but can you please sort out your presenters' pronunciation of the word “homage”? This word was anglicised many centuries ago, after it came over with the Normans, but so many BBC presenters seem to think it requires a French pronunciation. They change it from *hom*ij to om*marge*. The most serious offender is Graham Norton, and I've heard it crop up all over the BBC, from Radio One DJs (Scott Mills, just the other day) to Fiona Bruce on the Six O'Clock News. It appals me that so many professionals are so clueless about the pronunciation, and only look to each other to verify how a word should be pronounced. Please tell me that you can do something about this BBC-wide. People look to the BBC presenters to guide them on pronunciation too, so I would not be at all surprised to discover that a whole generation of young people now believes this word is French and needs to be pronounced with a French accent.
Helen Horlsley, Bristol