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Bristow is the firm’s master of desk top football; he is unsurpassed in construction of paper aeroplanes (and noted for it in the Chester-Perry Who’s Who) and he can sing Don’t Cry for Me Argentina to the tune of They’re changing guard at Buckingham Palace, a feat for which he is rightly held in awe by the otherwise cynical postboy. He is also President of Paper Clips Incorporated (membership: 1).
Bristow would much rather be known for his writings but with the exception of Toady Thompson everyone regards them as utter rubbish. His ultimate hobby is the study of the well-known book "Brain surgery for beginners" but his study has brought him not one jot nearer achieving his ambition of becoming a brain surgeon.
All these important (!) matters are reviewed below.
Desktop football is played with coins and a ruler (on those days when anyone actually has spare coins) (This game has been played by the author of this website, many years ago, when he too was in an office with time to spare). In the days before decimalization the normal kit was a sixpence for the ball and two pennies a side for the men. The players face each other across the length of a desk. Two-inch strips in pencil at each end mark goals. Players take it in turns to use the ruler to flick one of their men either at the ball or anywhere they choose on the desktop. If the ball goes over the goal line, it’s a goal.
The game is deceptively difficult. The harder the man is struck, the more likely that the ball will fire off the desk, giving the other player a "throw-in". If the other player is in a good position to score, merely moving a man in front of the ball can make it impossible for him to get through to the goal. Skilful players take as much time moving their men into useful positions as they do in hitting the ball. One man may be left permanently as a goalkeeper, but of course as soon as he is used to flick the ball away, he will be out of position and a turn must be expended in moving him back.
Bristow’s book writes the definitive guide to the game. He takes a conservative position to the rules "Dress: the referee shall wear a black jacket and pinstriped trousers".
The normal pitch is Bristow's own desk. Sometimes during tournaments he finds other clerks urging him to finish his work so that they can start the next game. However when Fudge is on holiday then matches take place on his gleaming, huge, desktop - "The sacred turf". If a manager looks in while a game is in progress then the coins are hastily cleared away but otherwise the game is played quite blatently strip 4645
Desk top football is taken seriously in Chester-Perry's. Bristow is clearly one of the best players (not surprising given the amount of time he is prepared to devote to practice if it means not doing any work). There is even a handicapping committee who have almost forced Bristow out of the game with their ruling that he wear a waste-paper basket over his head when playing - strip 4378a And from time to time Hickford will watch a game so that he can write it up in the House Journal. Surprisingly, there is no inter-firm league - it would be a joy to see Bristow and Co. against the finest from Gun & Fames, Myles & Rudge and Effandee Holdings.
Bristow demonstrates his mastery of this ancient art on the day he creates the Briscorde, a droop-nose sleekly dynamic arrow of a craft, built from specially selected materials (a page from the House Journal). Unfortunately on the test flight, on the roof of the C-P building, it falls like a stone. Bristow is undaunted. To Jones' admiration he sets out at once to create the Briscorde Mk II.
In the early strips it appears that Hewitt was the chief instigator of airborne stationery, with Bristow somewhat disapproving. Here, in strip 177 we can see the start of Bristow's fascination with the world of miniature gliders
As a further example of using the right materials, strip 4883 shows what can be done with a new copy of Who's Who at Chester-Perry
Bristow's desire to be a brain surgeon is covered under ambitions. His chosen route to this desirable qualification is the study of that well known primer Brain surgery for Beginners. He does not appear to have advanced as far as Brain surgery for Experts but at least he is not stuck on Brain surgery for Dummies. The book is a like a child's comfort blanket - he retreats to it when times are hard, say when another literary masterpiece is rejected strip 4199 . Like a religious work promising salvation to the faithful, he can convince himself that one day, if he keeps on studying, then somehow ...well, probably not. But he is not the only one in C-Ps who thinks that medicine is the way to a better life - strip 5579a
When there is nothing else to do, twiddle a paper-clip. Bristow takes this to advanced level, holding a summer exhibition at which a peculiarly bent specimen found on Hewitt's desk takes first prize. We hear no more of Paper Clips Incorporated but Bristow continues to mess around with them, not always strictly with business in mind - strip 5311 . Even the cynical postboy can be impressed
but you have to do a lot more to get into the Guiness Book of Records - strip 2338
Being a compulsive paper-clip manipulator does have some drawbacks. It makes you vulnerable to the tricks of the Sports and Social Club committee desperate for attendance - strip 3298 and it can become a compulsion requiring visits to the sick bay and, when all else fails, the best professional help - strip 4818