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Today's quote:

Monday, December 18, 2017

Watch your back, Frank!

You're a moving target now, Frank, following your recent Christmas card! ☺


I promised to tell you all about "doing a Joslin" which entered the English vocabulary sometime in 1971 when I lived and worked on tropical and often rain-soaked and muddy Bougainville Island in the then Territory of Papua & New Guinea.

Our small team of intrepid auditors and cost engineers were exposed daily to the risk of impaling ourselves on lethally sharpened pencils while overeating on strawberry shortbread biscuits as we tried to keep the world's largest construction project within its $300-million budget.

I was senior auditor in charge of several large contracts on the Bougain-ville Copper Project, such as the construction by Hornibrook of the port facilities at Loloho, World Services' power house construction, the Arawa Township built by Morobe-ANG, Brambles-Kennellys' haulage services, and the concrete production at Pioneer Concrete's batch plant.



Unlike some who found this work dull and repetitive and in the process became dull and repetitive themselves, I treated it as a game of chess. The contracts spelt out the rules but the moves were never the same. Written by engineers who knew everything about building a ship loader or power house but little about how this might translate into billable dollars and cents, it left the contractor's accountant pitted against the auditor to interpret contractual clauses in sometimes unexpected ways.

Not all members of the audit team were as forensic in their work or as delighted with working ten hours a day six days a week. Some started counting the days to the end of their twelve-month contract by running up adding-machine strip lists from 365 days down to zero which they pasted to their office walls, crossing off one number each morning.

Others simply went through the motion by 'sitting' on their contract claims just long enough to make it appear as if they had done all the checking before signing them off for payment with a boozey florish. Needless to say, not many survived that kind of mental torture.


No idea why he wanted to leave so soon as he certainly enjoyed all the free beer.
Frank Joslin with back to camera on far left; yours truly on far right;
sitting on table behind me and smirking is the 'Sunshine Kid'


Enter Frank Joslin, the latest and "star" addition to the team on account of being the only chartered accountant, but it soon became apparent that Frank was more interested in chartered planes than in chartered accounting because when he was given the monthly "perk" of hand-carrying a batch of computer punch cards to Bechtel's Melbourne office, he was gone and never seen again.

His dirty deed became known as "doing a Joslin" and was much talked about but never copied. I haven't checked the 'Gum Leaf Dictionary' aka Macquarie Dictionary but wouldn't be surprised if the phrase weren't in common usage today. Take a bow, Frank (but watch your back!)