Nick Mann's death prompts John Stokdyk to reflect on what news like that means when it's about someone you know.
Like many others we heard about the man who died early on Sunday morning trying to pull his brother out of the way of a tube train at Old Street Station.
As the story unfolded we learned that he was HMRC press officer Nick Mann, who just last week was helping my colleague Rachael Power on a recent news story she was working on.
Previously he worked at the CIPFA journal Public Finance and on The Actuary, both of which described his professionalism and charm.
A shock like this can knock you back and trigger thoughts about how there are more important things in life than tax or journalistic deadlines.
On the AccountingWEB editorial team, we are often thorns in the side of the HMRC press team - constantly bringing members' complaints to their attention and harassing them for faster answers. Typically we want to point out to the world where things aren't working, and the press officer's job is to minimise such negative coverage.
Given the tenor of the community's sentiments, the relationships can often get spiky and even adversarial.
In general, however, HMRC's press officers are professional and really do help dredge up important information from the organisation.
As you can tell from Nick's CV, they are people who do very similar jobs to us (collecting and compiling information about the tax system) and are among the contacts we talk to most often. We go back a long way and have many shared experiences.
The same could be said of the wider AccountingWEB community and HMRC's legion of inspectors, managers and back-up staff. It's very easy to view the tax department as a monolith run by obstructive, petty despots who take pleasure in making life as difficult as possible for businesses, accountants and journalists.
It's actually staffed by human beings doing their jobs in what can often be difficult circumstances. We all know that tax is an thankless job, whichever side of the fence you sit on.
So, prompted by Nick Mann's sad death, perhaps we should bear that thought in mind for the next few days. When you want to shout down the phone at someone from HMRC, remember that we're all part of the same industry. Save your bile for the automatic answering system instead.
AccountingWEB’s interim Editor in Chief has been with the site since 1999 and returned to the editorial hot seat in March 2020 to lead the hunt for a long-term successor... Send a DM if you're interested! When not tending to the needs of AccountingWEB members and geeking out on their technology habits, he devotes much of his time to his oddball...