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Is the Art of Shredding Gone Forever?

Being a trainee accountant in previous eras was somewhat different to today’s trainees.

I spent the first 3 months of my training contract in the 1970s, clearing out the office cellar and once I had proven to be proficient at ‘clearance’, I was entrusted with ‘destruction.’ This meant once the cellar was emptied, the task of shredding the old files was an altogether more rewarding task.

If you have ever been lucky enough to be given such a menial task, you will know yourself how strangely fulfilling shredding is, but also what a tiresome intrusion staples represent. If you spot them early, no problem; extract them and carry-on shredding. However, if the little devils slip through your cursory Quality Assurance review, then all hell lets loose, with grinding steel on steel, piercing noise and frighteningly, with such a volume of combustible materials, the smell of burning!

Four months after starting my training contract, I could be found feeding shredded slips of paper into huge sacks full of paper strips for weeks on end.

This created an endless bonfire in the back garden of our terraced Victorian house that served as our offices. Many a winters’ afternoon was spent by me, standing reflectively around my bonfire burning the paper strips that were once invoices or nominal ledgers. This bonfire activity is strangely alluring and peaceful.

Before long I had learnt all I needed to know about the art of shredding and bonfires and my continuing professional development was clearly now on the move, because the partners then ruined all my outdoor activity, took me away from these newly mastered skills and moved me onto figures!

However, all these years later, along comes the Paperless Office and now all my training was in vain. I hope the same doesn’t happen with Double Entry – oops, it already has!