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Bristow's Colleagues



In the early days, Pilkington played a pivotal role in the Buying Department. A clerk, working alongside Bristow, Hewitt and Jones, he nevertheless incurred Bristow's suspicions, rivalry and hostility. Here is Bristow, in the very first week of the strip, pondering on his fellow-worker (and betraying an amazing capacity for violence)

It’s all right for Pilkington... smug, self-satisfied, complacent
He sits there all day with that stupid grin on his face, thinking secret thoughts
I hate that stupid grin of his. I'd like to smash a chair over his head
I bet he'd love to know what I'm thinking.
You can see the original here (but it is not good quality) strip 5
Strip 5 was published in the Aberdeen Press and Journal in September 1961 and in the Evening Standard in March 1963. Apologies for poor quality of scan from microfiche

Pilkington provokes more dislike by apparently accepting a pay rise and smiling a deeply smug smile, snooping around Bristow's desk (in the hope of discovering how much Bristow earns) and smoking a vile pipe. Even when Bristow threatens to expose him to Fudge and the pipe is removed, Pilkington finds another way to irritate with the old boiled sweet routine - strip 102

Strip 102 was published in the Evening Standard in June 1962

In view of their strained relationship, it is odd that Bristow asks Pilkington to review the first, complete, version of Living Death in the Buying Department. His critique in strip 145
Strip 145 was published in the Evening Standard in August 1962
must surely come as no surprise

It becomes clear during October 1962 that Pilkington has been promoted to an intermediate position between the management and the three clerks (Bristow, Jones and Hewitt). This is particularly galling to Bristow who dismissed Pilkington's chances of advancement on the grounds that "he hasn't been here as I long as I have". The nature of the new regime is brought quickly to light in strip 530
Strip 530 was published in the Evening Standard in October 1962

This is pretty much the same wording that the manager Mr. Wilkington uses when Bristow becomes over familiar the day after the firm's outing to Whelkston, documented in Bristow (1966). Hmm - Pilkington / Wilkington. Well, why waste a good idea?

There is one strip (677) where Barker announces that in Pilkington's absence Bristow will be "taking over". This does not not last and one may wonder at it happening at all, but the point is that Pilkington is a sort of senior clerk, receiving general instructions and passing them on to the other clerks. This of course only increases Bristow's resentment and jealousy. He gains some small satisfaction by stealing Pilkington's ink and anything else that Pilkington is foolish enough to leave in his desk, locked or not.(Yes, in the 1960s clerks apparently had to provide their own ink).

The war between Bristow and Pilkington fizzles out, as indeed does Pilkington himself, virtually vanishing from the strip towards the end of the 1960s. In some ways he was the focus of Bristow's envy and ambition because he, like Bristow, was just a humble buying clerk and he, unlike Bristow, managed to lever himself up one rung above the crowd. His departure meant that the fundamental struggle between Fudge and Bristow came into sharp relief.