1983 and I’m Company Accountant at Pallot Glass, a family-owned glass, glazing and window replacement outfit. A new world and I loved it for the 12 years I was there. And I was in charge of all two of the staff which I inherited, together with a dog (Plonk) who seemed to be the doorstop to the Accounts Department, blocking all who tried to enter.
Desktop accounting was still in its infancy, but we managed the transition from Kalamazoo cards to a nice, little accounting system. And proper 5-inch floppy disks for backing up. And I self-taught myself the daily, monthly and annual routines that go with commercial accounting.
In time we opened (and eventually closed) outlets in Guernsey and the UK so my dread of flying was severely tested. I became Finance Director of our little group of companies.
But it was the lads that made it all so enjoyable. In the factory were a bunch of mainly Scottish tradesmen, time-served, hard working and hard playing. On the vans were another bunch who would drive off in pairs each morning on various jobs around the island. There was a natural stand-off between the lads and the office staff, but we needed one another and managed a rapport of sorts.
Their weekly wages were mostly gone by Tuesday and they’d come looking for a ‘sub’ to get them through the week. If you were kind-hearted and lent one of them a tenner then the rest would be queuing up outside. If you played hardball then they’d try again next day.
The stories were legion – I might write a book one day. One Monday morning there was a work experience lad waiting downstairs. The Works Director saw him and bundled him onto a van which was just leaving on a job. A week later the Works Director asked the young lad how he was getting on. The lad replied ‘Loving it, but I was hoping to be trained in Sales.’ There was a minor sensation when a GIRL was taken on as a window fitter. That lasted two weeks until she declared herself pregnant.
Twelve great years. I’d be there now but I was now married with a mortgage. One or two of our big contracts were stretching the company financially. I left for the safer pastures of the Jersey finance industry. (Pallot Glass happily trade to this day, still family-owned.)
Three years at Theodore Goddard & Co, a medium-sized trust company, deserves no more than a paragraph. It should have warned me off the finance industry for good. It’s a living death. But, through contacts, I got my next move.
Ten years at Bois & Bois, a small legal office. I’d found a new niche. Looking after the books, observing the strict legal accounting rules, reporting to the partners. Conveyancing (property transactions) which go through Jersey’s Royal Court each Friday was the climax of every week. And in Jersey, property deals can be very large indeed. It was crucial that the funds were in place to complete the transaction at Court and, if acting for the purchaser, that they were paid out the following Tuesday. Many close shaves we had.
Ten good years, good bosses, lovely colleagues. But for many months now I’d been planning to finish up my working days in Ireland, a country with which I have a great affinity. All the indicators were right, the Celtic Tiger was roaring. I was no longer married with a mortgage. In the last days of 2007 I said my goodbyes (and there were many) and I was on my way.