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Bristow's Colleagues
Atkins of Accounts
 
 
Highslide JS
Strip 4725 was published in the Evening Standard in April 1974.
Atkinsí job is to make up and distribute the weekly payroll. The C-P clerks regard this as the most important function in the company. Atkinsí state of health is a matter of continual concern; on pay day he gets a stream of calls checking he has remembered his spectacles etc. The staff lurk outside his door when he is counting out the pay, counting out the notes with him.
The payroll is distributed in little brown envelopes stacked on a tray slung around Atkinsí neck like an ice-cream salesgirl in a cinema. Atkins invariably flings open the door of each department he visits on his rounds with the cheery cry "Wages coming up". Nobody in Chester - Perry's seems to have a bank account, apart from the overpaid salesmen such as Sampson who reduce Bristow to tears when they go to the bank, are cheerily greeted by the cashier and draw out in £5 notes. (sadly inflation has reduced the impact of this revelation. Imagine your colleagues drawing out in £50 notes).

Accounts appear to do nothing other than make up wages and do arithmetic. When their boss leaves they gather round saying things like "ADDios" and "ADDieu".

Sometimes Atkins will recruit an assistant. These tend to be young men who fail to understand that the money they are paying out is earned by the staff and who try to pocket the lot.

Bristow has a soft spot for Atkins. He finds him deeply sympathetic. After Atkins apologetically hands over a wage packet depleted by Sports & Social Club subscription, Bristow confesses “I'm glad he left when he did. We were both close to tears”. Pay Day is often an emotional event, particularly when Atkins is followed round by Mrs. Chrisp (wedding lists), Hickford (Sports and Social Club subscriptions) and Miss Sunman (leaving presents). Bristow, in some despair, sometimes just holds out his out-tray for the incoming wage packet. Or he may refuse to accept it all on the grounds he has done no work all week and therefore does not deserve it. Atkins, who is supposed to get a signature before he hands over the little brown envelope, does not have an easy time of it.

Atkins is first encountered as a bachelor. He courts the typist Miss Rouge, a woman for whom the term 'motormouth' might have been invented. Her description of how they got together is in strip 2174
Strip 2174 was published in the Evening Standard in January 1968. This scan is from the Sydney Morning Herald, July 1968
The engagement has its rocky moments when Atkins nearly fall for an attractive young temp, but despite the vicious rumours and gossip that go round the building exactly as fast as Bristow can walk round it (this is not a co-incidence), the wedding goes ahead. Unusually, we learn that he has a first name - Albert.

Atkins is one of the very few at C-Ps to have a home life (he is woken early one morning by Bristow returning from holiday and anxious not to be missed off the payroll; we see not only Atkins wearing a nightcap but Mrs. Atkins, nee Rouge as well). He is keen to entertain his fellow workers and likes to throw New Year parties - however opinion varies on the social qualities of these get-togethers, typified by this reaction in strip 3360
Strip 3360 was published in the Evening Standard in December 1971. This scan is from the Sydney Morning Herald, December 1972
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He also likes to have the lads in when his wife is away, but seems to be somewhat in awe of her strip 4150
Strip 4150 was published in the Evening Standard in July 1974 and in Bristow Latest. This scan is from the Melbourne Age, August 1974
. (Frank Dickens, in the Big Big Big Bristow Book wrongly attributes the photo-turning incident to Jones). In later strips, Mrs. Atkins berates her husband for continuing to work at C-Ps, amidst "those morons". His defence - "I can't leave, they've put me on a pedestal".

The rather sad contrast between Atkins' sociable home life and the empty bedsit of Bristow was highlighted in December 1971

Atkins: Well Bristow won't be long now
Bristow: What's that Atkins
Atkins: Christmas Day of course - I love it. The laughter of children, the sizzling of the turkey..the smell of the pudding, the presents from the tree... the snap of the crackers...chestnuts roasting round an open fire. What does Christmas Day mean to you?
Bristow: Cilla Black - Top of the Pops - the Queen's broadcast - Black and White Minstrels - the Barratts of Wimpole Street - Morcambe* and Wise.
(note for non-Britons. These were all popular TV progammes of the day. The Queen's broadcast is still going strong) * should be "Morecambe"
strip 3354

Naturally Atkins is keen to take part in the Buying Department's nativity play. He puts his own special spin as he takes the role of one of the Wise Men

Highslide JS
Strip 3614 was published in the Evening Standard in October 1972 and in More Bristow

In a rather shocking development we learned from Frank Dickens' website in August 2003 that Atkins has set up with the notorious temp Tanzi, whose affections he has stolen from Jones. It is not clear what has happened to Mrs. Atkins and, though typical of his behaviour when young, it seems a little out of character for Atkins, about whose imminent retirement Bristow was speculating as long as September 1962. The affair does not appear to have lasted but how it ended and with what long-term consequences, we are uninformed.

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