Skip to main content

R and R or Not?

When I was a trainee accountant back in the 1970s things were much more about the command structure and in the practice I worked in, partners ruled and senior partners basically did what they wanted.

It’s so much better today, well let’s hope so!

After an initial spell clearing out the cellar, that progressed onto shredding and then weeks and months of casting columns and reconciling bank statements, I eventually got moved onto drafting accounts (manually of course).

I had entered the magical and mysterious realms of double entry and it was fun; accept…in the strict command and control structure of a rural four partner firm, I now had to interface with the partners – oh dear!

Interface is really not the most apt description, rather report as Foot Soldier to the Lieutenant, via the Sergeant Major (Office Manager). Our Senior Partner seemed obsessed with ‘getting it right’ or more accurately, doing what he ordered.

He smoked huge Churchill cigars and his room always had a large ring of smoke wafting around.

There was no awareness of the dangers of passive smoke then and no Health and Safety Executives to save us juniors from an early death.

After you had drafted the accounts, visits to his office to ‘run through the accounts’ were quite frankly emotional and physical torture; one, because you couldn’t breathe properly whilst in there, two because afterwards your clothes stank of cigar smoke and three, because talking through and checking every single transaction in a Nominal Ledger takes an inordinate amount of time.

We would cheerily transfer £1.24 Light Bulbs from Light and Heat to Repairs and Renewals, or ‘R & R’ and oh how I needed some USA Navy Rest and Recovery after an afternoon in the smoke filled torture house.

The next day, adorned with clean clothes, I would be called to sit at his desk for another afternoon of jest.

Inevitably, before the day was out I was told to now to transfer the same £1.24 Light Bulbs from R & R to Sundry Expenses – and so it continued, over and over, until eventually, it found its way back to Repairs and Renewals several days later! Things are definitely better today – thank goodness!