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.
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
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
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
I travelled up with a young man who was reading a Chester-Perrry recruitment
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
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.
clerk and his nemesis
||Young Winston (not the Churchill sprog, this is a lad from Wotsirb
country who defies his parents and the local witch-doctor
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
||Young Bruce on the Australian sheep farm is tired of the outback
- the Flying Doctor is called out
||"Strewth - chocs away"
||Young Custer (sic) on the Navajo reservation confronts Chief Running
||"Ug! Heap bad medicine"
||Number one son in the Chinese Laundry pays his respects to Honourable
||"Confucius, he say..."
||Beau Geste in the French Foreign Legion tenders his resignation
to his Capitan
||"Zut alors - summon the firing squad"
||Young Tensing on the Himalayan expedition tells the climbing leader
he needs to go to the top
Strip 6990 was published in the
Evening Standard in September 1985. This scan is from
the Sydney Morning Herald published September 1985
||The Vatican's youngest cardinal loses his faith and confesses
all to the Holy Father
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.
||A stowaway on a merchant liner is brought before the captain
||"Bosun - get the plank out"
||Young Rudolph of the Bolshoi Ballet faces the director, Dr. Zhivago
||"Nyet! Get me the salt mines"
||A certain prince at a castle not a thousand miles from East Winchley
bows before a queenly figure
Strip 7050 published in the Evening
Standard in November 1985. This extract is from the Glasgow
Evening Times November 1985
|"Off with his head"
||At the traffic warden's HQ, number 365 informs the head Warden
that his time has expired.
||"Fixed penalty £10"
||Young Lawrence (sic) a member of a Bedouin tribe tells the wise
one that he thirsts for adventure
Strip 7197 was published in the Evening
Standard in June 1986. This extract is from the Glasgow Evening Times July 1986
||At a US cavalry fort young trooper Hickock faces Captain Wayne
||"Immediate transfer to Custer at Little Big Horn"
||A scion of the House of Bourbon decides that clerkery is more
fun than being royal in 1792 - Le Roi disagrees
7227 was published in the Evening Standard in August
1986. This scan is from original artwork offered for sale on the
|"Sacre Bleu - To the tumbrils with him!"
||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"
||In deepest Transylvania, a mad scientist unveils his latest ghastly creation
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
||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
||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>
||Huline the white-faced clown leaves Mr. Ringling's circus just
as the animal act is starting
||Exit, pursused by a bear
||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"
||Young courier Speedy Gonzales leaves Collins Couriers for a more
sedentary existence, helped on his way by his manager's boot
||"on yer bike"
||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!""
||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"
||The border control official disillusions the asylum seeker who
has fled the gulag and hidden in a coach boot to become a buying
||"You idiot! You were better off where you were"
||When the young SAS recruit tells his CO (who is also his father)
of his intentions, there is only one honourable way out
Strip 10657 was published in the
Evening Standard in February 2000
||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
||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"