It's now 40 years ago that I sat for my accountancy examinations with the Commercial Education Society of Australia, gaining my Dip.Ac. (Diploma in Accountancy or Diploma in Acupuncture, take your pick!)
I had just gone up to Papua New Guinea to work as an Audit Clerk for Hancock, Woodward & Neill, a firm of Chartered Accountants in Rabaul. They required me to attain formal Australian accounting qualifications even though I had previously sat my examinations in Germany and also studied, by correspondence course with the Hemingway Robertson Institute in Melbourne, for my diploma with the Bankers' Institute of Australia.
No trace left of the Hemingway Robertson Institute, and no sign of the Bankers' Institute of Australia either. However, the Commercial Education Society is still in business! It will celebrate its 100th anniversary on the 19th February 2011. I have just received an invitation from its President to its celebratory luncheon in Sydney on that date.
Not many associations reach a hundred, so I had better be there!
Perhaps I should start brushing up on my accounting jokes:
An accountant is having a hard time sleeping and goes to see his doctor. "Doctor, I just can't get to sleep at night."
"Have you tried counting sheep?"
"That's the problem - I make a mistake and then spend three hours trying to find it."
Two hearts became available and matched for a patient waiting for a heart transplant. One was from an 18-year-old athlete who died bungee-jumping and the other was from a 61-year-old accountant.
"So which one do you want ?", asked the surgeon.
The patient thought for a moment. "The accountant's", he said.
"The accountant's !?" exclaimed the doctor, "Why?"
The patient smiled "'Because it's never been used !"
A public accountant dies and goes to Heaven. He is met by St Peter and a cheering host of angels.
"Congratulations !" says St Peter.
"What for? " says the mystified accountant
"For living the longest life ever - 147 years old!"
"But I'm only 63 !" says the ever more mystified deceased practitioner.
Immediately the cheering stops and St Peter, with a face like thunder, calls for the angel record keeper.
"What is going on?" roars St Peter to the hapless angel "you told me he was 147 but he says he's only 63!"
The angel thumbs furiously through a large ledger and then announces in a puzzled voice, "But he must be 147, I added up all his chargeable hours !"
The doctor's face was grim as he looked at her. "Madam, I'm afraid you only have three months to live."
The woman was aghast - "What can I do? " she cried.
The doctor was very serious. "I suggest that you immediately marry a chartered accountant."
"Will that cure me ?" she yelled incredulously.
The doctor stared at her and said sternly, "No, but it will make the three months feel like three years."
The Chief Accountant of a large manufacturing concern had the same daily routine: on arriving at work, he would unlock the bottom drawer of his desk, peer at something inside, then close and lock the drawer. He had done this for 25 years. The entire staff was intrigued but no-one was game to ask him what was in the drawer. Finally the time came for him to retire. There was a farewell party with speeches and a presentation. As soon as he had left the building, some of the staff rushed into his office, unlocked the bottom drawer and peered in. Taped to the bottom of the drawer was a sheet of paper. It read, "The debit side is the one nearest the window."
(which just goes to show that nothing has changed since Friar Pacioli gave the world double-entry accounting more than 500 years ago.)
And, finally, here's a little poem about
An Accountant's Life
He was a very cautious man, who never romped or played,
He never smoked, he never drank, nor even kissed a maid.
And when up and passed and away, insurance was denied.
For since he hadn't ever lived, they claimed he never died.