Life is tough on the front line of accountancy. For more than five years, our intrepid correspondent has been bringing us news and views from a typical West Country practice.
So there I was
... sitting down for an initial chat with a prestigious new client at his impressive, pristine hard wood dining table. All very congenial.
Time to take a few notes after the initial chit chat so I got my notepad out of my bag. A few moments later I glanced down and noticed a centimetre long maggot creeping out of my pad across the mirror finish of the table!! I am hit with one of those classic moral dilemmas - do I:
a) draw attention to it and either admit that I have imported said maggot into this guy's home and blame my dog/cat/grandchildren/poor household maintenance for planting it in my bag, or
b) laugh it off and imply that it must have been here all the time, i.e. that it's his maggot, or
c) at an appropriate time casually flick it onto the floor and hope it crawls away and dies unobtrusively somewhere, or
d) stall for time?
Having opted for (d) I then have to place my pen in front of the maggot so the client can't see it and hope that he leaves the table so I can take decisive action. No such luck, his wife hands him the coffees on her way past and he keeps his steely glare fixed on me. Rats!
Now I need my pen, so the coffee cup comes in handy as a replacement screen. Maggot clearly getting a little weary so thankfully less movement now.
Client drinking coffee, so feel I need to do likewise or maybe he'll think I don't like his wife's coffee, probably not a good move. I decide to take action. I casually lift my writing pad and drop it right next to the coffee cup, on top of the maggot. I lean heavily on the far edge of the pad as I pick up the cup and hope that I haven't made too much of a mess on the table.
The meeting concludes and I gather up my stuff. I hand the client a couple of tax leaflets to distract his gaze and pick up my pad in a way that ensures that I can see underneath it before he does. Thankfully the absorbant cardboad backing has soaked up most of the maggot and I'm able to use it to wipe the rest off the table as I drag the pad towards me. I leave the table relatively unscathed and beat a hasty retreat.
Back in the office I go to get my sandwiches out of my bag. Somehow they don't seem quite so appetising now. Feels like a good day to go to the pub instead!