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Yes Mr. Fudge, Certainly Mr. Fudge, Right Away Mr. Fudge
Mr. Frederick J. Fudge is the Chief Buyer for the Chester-Perry Organisation. Though briefly replaced by an unseen Lady Chief Buyer, his menacing shadow will always loom large. The relationship between Fudge and Bristow is the the quintessential relationship between boss and worker, Chief and Indian, perhaps even the Marxist paradigm of exploiter and exploited.
He is an important man, responsible for a key department and has presumably worked his way up to his position. There were at least 18 people in line for his job. Coming in at number 18 is Bristow.
To Bristow (and Jones), Fudge is a pig. He is always rude, overbearing, short-tempered, mean, aggressive, unpleasant and ungrateful.
To Fudge, Bristow and Jones are lazy, shiftless, unimaginative, feckless, time-wasters who must be watched and disciplined if they are to be of any use at all. His standard phrase is "GET ON WITH YOUR WORK". For serious offences he stands the hapless clerk in front of his desk and assails him with wave upon wave of invective delivered at the top of his voice. So loud, indeed, is Mr. Fudge that the traffic in the street below grinds to a halt whilst crowds gather outside to admire both his vocabulary and his imagination. Alternately he can easily (and unintentionally) break up union meetings in the yard - strip 3093 .
Fudge never walks. He goes "CLUMP CLUMP". He never smiles (except when introducing a new Assistant Buyer, doubtless because this person must now do the daily management of the buying clerks).. He is always drawn to look at least twice the size of Bristow. Their confrontation is at the heart of Bristow’s relationship with the world of work. It was the subject of the very first Bristow strip, - (see Origins) in September 1961 in the Aberdeen Press and Journal, and published in the Evening Standard in March 1962 - where Bristow is agonising about what excuse to give Fudge for being late. Fudge never understands Bristow. Equally Bristow is unable to communicate his own feelings - even when he tries in the only way he knows, he fails to get through.Bristow's famous dumb insolence is one case in point strip 170 .
Yet Bristow remains astonishingly calm, even under the heaviest volleys of contumely. Witness the following strip 549
and Bristow develops his thoughts on the life and times of his boss a few months later:
Unmanageable as a baby
Bristow memorably summarises Fudge's concern for him as a worker as he takes the trusty old lift one day, in strip 1854
After all this background, it is no surprise that a day when Fudge praises Bristow is one to remember strip 3556 but they don't last long strip 3558 .
There is a serious message in the Bristow strip about the alienation of workers and the divisions created in society by large organisations. Bristow hates Fudge. He would love to walk out (if only he had another job to go to). He has no means of fighting back (other than his famous dumb insolence look; however this tends to make Fudge wonder if he is ill). Yet his ambition, the core of his motivation for staying at C-Ps is to become Chief Buyer. In fact, to become like Fudge.
In 1998 there was a dramatic change. In the the longest continued story in the history of the strip, Bristow learns that Fudge is to be kicked upstairs and will no longer be his boss. Naturally he gets this vital news from the liftboy ,in strip 10185 and then discovers everyone else knows. He and Jones embark on a desperate race to inveigle themselves with the powers-that-be, convinced that they are possible candidates for the job. But, in an amazing twist, the job goes not only to an outsider but to a woman, the first female to hold any sort of management role in C-Ps. She never appears and has no knowledge of Bristow. This could not continue and suddenly in March 2000 Jones bursts in to tell an appalled Bristow that Fudge is back! strip 10665