When I was a young chap, I was crap at maths. Now that I'm an older chap, I'm a little less crap at maths. But I'm still pretty crap. There's something about the inflexibility of numbers that irks me, that makes me feel ... well, angry, to be completely honest.
A few years ago, John Howard went back on something he'd said years before: "We will never have a GST under a Coalition government. Never, ever." Liar! A few years later, what did we get? A GST. Which is an initialism for something that makes keeping books rather more difficult than it needs to be. Perhaps not for someone who is "good with figures", but difficult nonetheless.
The first time I had to do a Business Activity Statement, or BAS, I went out and bought MYOB. Big mistake. I should have caught on, when the sales guy dropped a flyer into the bag with the software - a flyer for a twelve week TAFE course on How to use MYOB.
That first night, I installed the wretched thing on my computer, then spent five or six hours screaming at it. "I don't want to reconcile my check! I don't even have a check to reconcile! I don't know what reconciling a check even means! And it's spelt C-H-E-Q-U-E!"
Then, after several hours of screaming, I felt like crying. Seriously. I got that old familiar feeling from high school, with the maths teacher standing by my right shoulder, pointing at my maths book, jabbing with that long finger, demanding that I know what something-or-other's value was. "No, what's x? It's very simple. Work it out! What's x? X!"
"I don't know! Leave me alone!"
Except it wasn't my old maths teacher standing by my desk, but John Howard, pointing and demanding. "What's your input tax credit? No, not your PAYG witholding tax, your input tax credit. What is it?"
"I don't know! Leave me alone! I'm a writer! I've only ever wanted to be a writer! If I'd wanted to be an accountant, I'd have done accounting! And I'd have paid better attention in Year 10 maths!"
I've got a spreadsheet now, which my accountant (that's someone who is good with numbers, who people like me pay to be good with our numbers) gave me. And my BAS still takes the better part of a day, every three months, but I don't need a twelve week TAFE course just to know how to use it.