Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Keywords: "Accountability", Trial balance", Bank reconciliation", Father", Auditor", Books
Theme: A poem reflecting on accountability and relationships, both between the accountant and his clients, and between him and his father.
IWhen I first started work in my dad's officeit took me two days, one time, to completea Bank Reconciliation.No adding machines were allowed.We had to learn to 'use our heads'.Ten years onand I was so fast on the Olivetticlients sometimes brought their family injust to look.
IIWhen I worked in Sydney for C.B. & Associatesthere was one partner who, like me,would niggle over a Trial Balanceuntil the last penny was hounded into place.One of the other partners wanted only the Poundsor even the Tens or the Hundreds.“We deal in value”, he said, “not ciphers”.His first question of a new client was“Can you afford us?”
IIII returned to my hometown and went into partnershipwith dad. His clients had moved on, or had diedor had a younger generation nippingat the heels of their Directors.It could be said dad came into partnershipwith me, though his ideas of accountabilitystill convinced. I slipped back into smalltown ways.
IVI was in San Francisco when he died.The following years were the Management & Manipulation Decade(now, I hope, safely at the bottom of the harbour)but his finger remained hovering above my new computer.“The only thing you can trust is accountability” he had saidback in that first week of work, when I was exasperatedand would have fudged that Reconciliation.In 1978 I had to counter the bar-room advicethat came in with so many clients.I sold the Practice, rather than yieldto some of those tricky paper circlesand 'legal solutions'.
VWhy did my father come to me in a dream last nightafter all these years?In his time, and in my time as an Accountant,an Audit was a thorough undertakingdown to the last penny. Auditorsmight be laughed at, behind their backs,but they were trustedthough it is true – nothing is ever perfectand the perfect book balance may not explainevery manipulation, or oversight, or shortcoming.We had learned not to be exasperated with each otherbut that is not to say father and son were a true partnership.In my dream, why was he still so impatient?Each of us had his own shortcomings, I did nothave to be always accountable to him, nor he to me,surely? Why in my dream did he seem so vulnerable?Why was I put in that position?Sometimes I thinkWill the books ever balance?
Tom ShapcottDepartment of English, Adelaide University, Adelaide, Australia