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Bristow's Inferiors
(and other would-be Buying Clerks)
Strip 3578 was published in the Evening Standard in September 1972 and in More Bristow. This scan is from the Sydney Morning Herald October 1972
Who on earth would want to be a buying clerk? Apparently the schools of East Winchley regularly turn out young lads for whom this is the height of desire. And each one is a very real threat to Bristow.

They seem to flock in their thousands to the evidently desirable gates of the Chester-Perry Building . Once there they are rapidly and bitterly disillusioned by the work, the low pay and the meaninglessness of it all. This suits Bristow enormously. He doesn't want any young whipper-snappers taking the very bread out of his briefcase. In his view he has earned his position and no spotty-faced young shaver is going to take it from him.
But why do they want to be buying clerks? and why at C-Ps, for heaven's sake? Here is the sad story of one David Boggis, younger brother of the tearaway Elvis. We share the grief of his careers master in his school at his rash and naive ambition strip 4424
Strip 4424 was published in the Evening Standard in July 1975. This scan is from the Melbourne Age July 1975
. Young Boggis visits the company. Bristow advises him to jump off the roof. Mr. Pepys of Personnel writes off as rather dim. He returns to school undaunted but fails to get the job of his dreams. Even though he makes careful notes about the clothes that buying clerks wear ("scruffy shirt...down at heel shoes").

Another school-leaver, Duane Bloggs, actually gets a job in C-Ps but turns against it. Kicking and screaming he clings to his mother's legs "I don't want to go to work in the nasty horrible Chester-Perry Building". "You and me both kid" thinks Bristow. However Duane soon settles down after a fight with the post-boy and joins all the other school-leavers in the Brolly and Bowler for a consoling drink after work.

Every so often the firm actually recruits school-leavers. Bristow tends to be philosophical about it - "as long as they are prepared to learn our ways" but sabotages their well meaning efforts at every opportunity. He reassures them that by working double overtime and at weekends they might just be able to make ends meet. He explains that the fear and trembling which has overcame them after the first day are an integral part of their job. He encourages them by explaining that, once they have made it through the first week, they have learned all they will ever need to know.

For poor old Atkins of Accounts there is extra stress. He gives the shiny-faced eager young clerks their first wage packets and then has to deal with the heart-rending agony as they are deducted their first stoppages.

In recent times C-Ps has spruced up its image to ensure that it continues to recruit the cream of modern youth. This policy may be unwise. To quote Bristow (from the website, September 2003) as he enters the Buying Department and hangs up his bowler:

That was the most harrowing journey I've ever had.
I travelled up with a young man who was reading a Chester-Perrry recruitment brochure
He spent the whole journey comparing me with the picture on the brochure and every time he looked back at me a few more scales fell from his eyes.

Unlikely Buying Clerks

As well as deluded schoolkids, from time to time we encounter various unlikely candidates who will give it all up for a desk in the Buying Department. Indian princelings, Foreign Legionnaires, asylum seekers - all meet an appropriate fate, or are dismissed, based on their circumstances. Here is a listing of these arguably insane young men (and they are all men) and the reaction of their superiors the moment they announced that their destiny lay in joining the bowler-hat brigade in a grimy office doing the world's dullest job. It is worth noting that none of them actually seem to make it, or at least not to Chester-Perry's.

The would-be clerk and his nemesis
June 1985 Young Winston (not the Churchill sprog, this is a lad from Wotsirb country who defies his parents and the local witch-doctor

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Strip 6935 published in the Evening Standard in June 1985. This scan is from the Glasgow Evening Times June 1985

Not specified but probably a hex was put on him
July 1985 Young Bruce on the Australian sheep farm is tired of the outback - the Flying Doctor is called out "Strewth - chocs away"
July 1985 Young Custer (sic) on the Navajo reservation confronts Chief Running Bear "Ug! Heap bad medicine"
August 1985 Number one son in the Chinese Laundry pays his respects to Honourable Fu Manchu "Confucius, he say..."
August 1985 Beau Geste in the French Foreign Legion tenders his resignation to his Capitan "Zut alors - summon the firing squad"
September 1985 Young Tensing on the Himalayan expedition tells the climbing leader he needs to go to the top
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Strip 6990 was published in the Evening Standard in September 1985. This scan is from the Sydney Morning Herald published September 1985
September 1985 The Vatican's youngest cardinal loses his faith and confesses all to the Holy Father The Pontiff is familiar with Bristow's favourite expostulation"
Strip 7004 was published in the Evening Standard in September 1985. This extract is from the Sydney Morning Herald October 1985.
October 1985 A stowaway on a merchant liner is brought before the captain "Bosun - get the plank out"
November 1985 Young Rudolph of the Bolshoi Ballet faces the director, Dr. Zhivago "Nyet! Get me the salt mines"
November 1985 A certain prince at a castle not a thousand miles from East Winchley bows before a queenly figure
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Strip 7050 published in the Evening Standard in November 1985. This extract is from the Glasgow Evening Times November 1985
"Off with his head"
March 1986 At the traffic warden's HQ, number 365 informs the head Warden that his time has expired. "Fixed penalty £10"
June 1986 Young Lawrence (sic) a member of a Bedouin tribe tells the wise one that he thirsts for adventure  
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Strip 7197 was published in the Evening Standard in June 1986. This extract is from the Glasgow Evening Times July 1986
July 1986 At a US cavalry fort young trooper Hickock faces Captain Wayne "Immediate transfer to Custer at Little Big Horn"
August 1986 A scion of the House of Bourbon decides that clerkery is more fun than being royal in 1792 - Le Roi disagrees
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Strip 7227 was published in the Evening Standard in August 1986. This scan is from original artwork offered for sale on the internet
"Sacre Bleu - To the tumbrils with him!"
November 1987 The rear half of a pantomime horse at the East Winchley Theatre walks out on his partner and the manager, Mr. Barnum It must be true - "! had it straight from the horse's mouth"
January 1988 In deepest Transylvania, a mad scientist unveils his latest ghastly creation
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Strip 7586 was published in the Evening Standard in January 1988. This scan is from the Sydney Morning Herald March 1988
The cunning plan fails horribly
October 1988 Intrepid spaceman Major Bloggs should perhaps have waited to be back on earth before telling his Mission Commander he was resigning from the space programme "Out then you yellow-bellied cur and stay out" <closes airlock>
June 1991 Famous actor Sir Lawrence Branagh cannot put up with the first night nerves as he appears in Hamlet at the Old Vic theatre any longer. The director gives his final instruction "Exit, stage left" <applies boot>
July 1991 Huline the white-faced clown leaves Mr. Ringling's circus just as the animal act is starting Exit, pursused by a bear
October 1991 Brother Ignatius in the monastery near Florence tells Father Abbot he wishes to swap his robes for a bowler and pin-stripe "...and stay out for ever and ever and ever and ever. Amen"
March 1992 Young courier Speedy Gonzales leaves Collins Couriers for a more sedentary existence, helped on his way by his manager's boot "on yer bike"
November 1992 Father Christmas at Burridges store prepares to leave his grotto for a Buying Department to the manager's chagrin "Anymore talk like that and you'lll get the sack!""
January 1999 In a palace near the Taj Mahal, an Indian princeling vows to abandon his life of luxury but the Rajah is having none of it "Tie him to the muzzle of a cannon"
May 1999 The border control official disillusions the asylum seeker who has fled the gulag and hidden in a coach boot to become a buying clerk "You idiot! You were better off where you were"
February 2000 When the young SAS recruit tells his CO (who is also his father) of his intentions, there is only one honourable way out
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Strip 10657 was published in the Evening Standard in February 2000
February 2002 An Afghan princeling confronts his traditionalist warlord father with some unwelcome news "There's a pile of stones outside - Hamid you know what to do - Bury him on the far side of the mountain
undated Another foolish French Foreign Legionary succumbs to the baking heat and the wrath of his captain "Ten days in the hot hole should bring him to his senses"