I had been to the main interview and got selected for the final stage. I had chosen a career in accounting, much to my father’s dismay as he had been shackled to it for over forty years and wanted me to have a different life, something not so boring. I had been to a brief interview with the firm and the interviewer told me he would take me under his personal wing. I started the job with two other seventeen year old boys. We were all to do two months training before being articled to a partner in the firm. Each of the six partners would have six students so the firm had about fifty staff.
I unfortunately got the small desk beside the office manager’s large one. He had me now where he wanted me “under his wing”, in a small room which meant I was to be his right hand boy and also meant I had to behave all the time. If I looked up from what I was doing he would ask if everything was ok. He would come and look over my shoulder at various intervals during the day then suggest a different way of approaching the work. This was to be my station for the next five years.
Desmond was an Oxford don, a guy who had three accounting qualifications and had a very exclusive London accent. He would drop the fact that he had been to Eton at any opportunity. He was about six- foot tall, about thirty five, black glasses on a permanently tanned face; he had very piercing blue eyes. His hair was brushed over a slightly balding head. Four days a week he wore a broad pinstripe suit over a waistcoat and spotted tie and floppy handkerchief. He would alternate suits in all colours of blue, grey, brown and rarely a black one (which was for funerals and weddings). Fridays he would wear a blue blazer and grey trousers and a cravat. I would take whichever suit or suits he discarded to the cleaners for him and collected last week’s cleaning which sometimes included his wife’s suits as well. He had a fine collection of bright fluorescent socks; red, yellow, green and orange. He wore a beige Crombie overcoat with a tie-over belt.
When asked a question he would push his glasses to the top of his head, which was tipped back his fingers laced together, stick a pencil in between his lips and sigh once, twice or sometimes three times before answering, which he maintained was his thinking time before he answered.
The signing in book was on his desk and all the staff would file in and as they signed he would ask them questions about what state their audit work was in and I was expected to write their answers in a book for him to use if questioned by the partners. The lads would wink at me as they left and later in the day might ask me to change the report I had written. He was hated by most of the staff and could lose his temper at the drop of a hat. I was safe from that as he realised I was useful if kept on side. It was a very hard and difficult place to work and I ended up as his only friend.
He used me as his lackey sending me off on tasks around the office and into town. We were secretaries to large manufacturing companies and he would send me off to collect books and deliver urgent letters to important clients. The partners always wanted drivers to take them to meetings in town where they couldn’t park, so when they discovered I could drive a big car they got me to take them anywhere they wanted or needed to go. I also had to take their wives home if they had been in town. This was useful as I got to know them and their families quite well.
This went on for the first two years but suddenly I got requests from the partners to go out on jobs with them which were the cream of jobs, not for my ability, but for my driving. Usually it meant they could drink. This of course was much to the annoyance of my jailor.
Probably a year after this I had been doing a series of pub stock checks for a large five pub group and discovered a serious fraud, so they discovered my niche and I ended up as the firm’s expert for retail, so got this type of work mostly.
In the end I had to agree with my father that it was a very boring career I had decided upon.
This page is dedicated to the memory of
William Declan Donohoe
30th November 1946 – 24th May 2021... more