Friday Thoughts

We’re coming up on another weekend already and another summer holiday. Seems like we just enjoyed Memorial Day. Here in Chicago we wait all winter for summer so I don’t complain about the heat. I like the heat. Reminds me of Mexico…

I got back late from California and Stanford Directors’ College Wednesday night. My beloved American Airlines – I’m almost at 2,000,000 miles which will give me permanent lifetime Platinum status – frightened me for a moment by making me think they had lost my bag coming from San Francisco via Dallas. I arrived at almost midnight to O’Hare to be shuttled back and forth between several carousels looking for my overladen suitcase. Eventually filed a lost bag claim with more concern about all my shoes – several pairs of nice ones – than any of the clothes. Headed out to the parking lot and got a call as I started the car that they had the bag. It was just my tired old eyes that had somehow missed it.

That fatigue rolled over into Thursday when my preoccupation with a doctor’s appointment made me mix up the date for the PCAOB San Francisco forum on Auditor Independence and Auditor Rotation. I missed seeing Steven Thomas, whose photo accompanies my current headline story about auditor litigation, testify live on Thursday via webcast. I was also looking forward to seeing Roger Dunbar, retired Ernst & Young Vice Chairman who is now Chairman of the Board and Audit Committee Chairman for Silicon Valley Bank, testify. I ate lunch with Roger at the Stanford Directors’ College and found him very engaged, emphatic about his duties especially auditor independence and interested in my work.

I will have to watch the tape of the meeting held yesterday, available here.

We had a planning call this morning for the panel at the Society of Corporate Secretaries and Governance  66th annual National Conference at JW Marriott Hotel in Washington, DC from July 11-14. Our topic is “Auditors, the Board and Shareholders: An Evolving Relationship.” My leadoff comments will be about auditor independence.

I also exchanged a few emails with my friend Broc Romanek, blogger, editor of the Corporate site. I was telling him about Stanford and we were talking about seeing each other at the conference in DC. It’s been a while. But he’s a busy guy. The Corporate Counsel has just come out with their guide for audit committees to pre-approval of non-audit services and audit fees. For more information, go here.

I recently had a big milestone birthday and was reminded, while talking to Broc, about the poem I sent him when he turned 50 last December. I’d like to believe we are both only halfway or so to the finish line…

This comes from blogger Stephen Pentz at his blog First Known When Lost:

“I’m Just On The Verge Of Seeing How Life Ought To Be Lived”

I have not forgotten my earlier promise to share Philip Larkin’s thoughts on the fifties.  (The years of one’s life, not the decade of — where I hail from — Eisenhower and Elvis and Ozzie & Harriet.)  What he has to say is pure Larkin:  appalling and hilarious.  And directly and clear-sightedly to the point.

Larkin turned 50 on August 9, 1972.  On August 11, he wrote to Kingsley Amis:

“Funny being fifty, isn’t it.  I keep seeing obits of chaps who’ve passed over ‘suddenly, aged 55’, ‘after a short illness, 56’, ‘after a long illness bravely borne, aged 57’ — and add ten years on, what’s ten years?  Compared with eternity aaaaaaaaooooooooghghghghghghg ah gets tuft.  No, it doesn’t bear thinking about.  Lucky I’ve got a bottle of Smith’s Glenlivet handy.  I begin to think that, give me another ten or twenty years, I’m just on the verge of seeing how life ought to be lived.  I’ll be just about ready then.”

Anthony Thwaite (editor), Selected Letters of Philip Larkin, 1940-1985 (Faber and Faber 1992), page 462.

As I said, pure Larkin:  the gloom, the humor, and — in the end — the heart of the matter stated plainly:  “give me another ten or twenty years, I’m just on the verge of seeing how life ought to be lived.”  Some of us might say:  “How true.”

In the same month, Larkin expressed his thoughts more formally:

The View

The view is fine from fifty,
Experienced climbers say;
So, overweight and shifty,
I turn to face the way
That led me to this day. (Emphasis fm.)

Instead of fields and snowcaps
And flowered lanes that twist,
The track breaks at my toe-caps
And drops away in mist.
The view does not exist.

Where has it gone, the lifetime?
Search me.  What’s left is drear.
Unchilded and unwifed, I’m
Able to view that clear:
So final.  And so near.