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Mr. Bristow

Getting to Work

Highslide JS
Strip 5528 was published in the Evening Standard in November 1979

He lives at 43 Rathcoole Road, East Winchley, a suburb of an unidentified city and commutes via British Hi-Speed Rail to work. We know that East Winchley is in Southern England because the regular drivers of Bristow’s train are the notorious Sharkey Bros. (Scourge of the Southern Region). Possibly East Winchley is a cunning disguise for East Finchley, a real suburb of London, although East Finchley is served by London Underground not British Rail. Bristow is not proud of living there. On the memorable night he meets someone on the train who tries to get him talking about his innermost feelings, he dare not leave at his normal destination "The sort of man I was pretending to be wouldn’t be seen dead getting off at a dump like East Winchley". However East Winchley seems pleasant enough, with its local church, little wooden gates outside the houses and the regular Late-Late crowd lolling about on the station platform

Highslide JS
Strip 1 was published in the Aberdeen Press and Journal in September 1961, and in the Evening Standard in March 1962. This scan is from a reprint in the Standard. It was redrawn for The Big Big Big Bristow Book

Bristow is schizophrenic about his timekeeping. In the very first strip (shown above) he panics about how to explain being late. In those days he drove to work in a natty little two-seater sports car. He still has the car, which he takes on holiday, and which he polishes whenever he takes off a day off through "illness". But now he takes the train to work. Maybe it became impossible to park near the Chester-Perry building once the traffic wardens started. Another reason might be the advice in Space at the Summit to make business contacts on the train (see Ambitions).The train service is unreliable and staff inefficient. Regularly he oversleeps and joins either the Late or (horrors) the Late-Late mob on the way to work. Yet one New Year’s Day he is proud to arrive just in time to be required to sign the Late Book "By hook or by crook I’ll be first in this book".

Highslide JS
Strip 4339 was published in the Evening Standard in March 1975 and in Bristow Latest

Another normal day on British Hi-Speed Rail

Bristow usually travels by the 8:15 commuter special and sits with the same people each day. Although he dresses identically and they all doing similar jobs, he is always the odd one out. If he opens the train window then the rest want it closed. When he finally changes his trusty old suit, shiny with wear over the years, they all remark how dark it seems in the carriage. On the day that everyone is excited about C-Ps latest take-over (as reported in Financial Things) Bristow will have watched the football. And any day he takes off, everyone in the carriage remarks how pleasant the journey is.

The daily journey is stressful. He is late so often (whether due to his own tardiness in rising or the usual delays on the train) that he must pound the streets leading to the C-P building at top speed. And when he arrives he sneaks in the back way and tears up the stairs in case Fudge catches him. On the other hand he is always happy to sign the Late Book, proud even, so it is hard to work out if he actually wants to get to work on time or not.Perhaps the fact that he has perfected the art of signing the book with an illegible signature that he then smears while the ink is wet means he can go on getting away with it. Or perhaps it is down to another, sneakier, method strip 4929
Strip 4929 was published in the Evening Standard in July 1977. This scan is from the Glasgow Evening Times July 1977
On those occasions that he is on time, Bristow may be able to pause to admire the scenery on the way to work, but it is more normal to confront heavy rain, winds and rather strange fellow-commuters strip 5348
Strip 5348 was published in the Evening Standard in March 1979 and in The Penguin Bristow. This scan is from the Sydney Morning Herald March 1979.

Management equally seems sometimes tolerant and sometimes violently opposed to lateness. Bristow and Jones take great delight when their department comes top of the league for lateness and absenteeism. Fudge often delivers wave upon wave of invective about his lack of punctuality. In tough times a Chester-Perry resistance force of workers and clerical staff devise a secret way into the office, avoiding the security staff. Alas, the route through the factory and up the back stairs is so devious and complex that Bristow arrives even later than if he had signed up at the desk.