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The Chester-Perry Co
The Chester-Perry House Journal  
 
Highslide JS
Strip 5444 was published in the Evening Standard in July 1979 and in The Penguin Bristow . This scan is from the Glasgow Evening Times July 1979

Each quarter the proud editor of the Chester-Perry House Journal, David Hickford  bustles round the building handing out the latest “bumper” number. And his visit to the Buying Department is marked by a withering blast of contempt, contumely and cruelty from Bristow. You can see how this gladiatorial contest unfolded in the listing further down of every House Journal featured in the strip.Remember that Bristow is always glad to see the arrival of the HJ – it is the only publication that clerks may read during working time with management approval and it allows him the pleasure of finding a new way to destroy the spineless, subservient and self-seeking Hickford. After he has read it, or at least skimmed through it looking for articles to lacerate with sarcasm, Bristow uses it for scrap, folds it into some suitable shape, demonstrates his skills in origami by making a nice doily or hat, or merely dumps his copy straight into the waste paper basket, once he has ripped out some pages for model aeroplanes and blacked in the eyes and teeth of photos of Sir Reginald and his fellow directors. Or he simply hands Hickford his out-tray to receive the latest edition.

The House Journal mainly carries grovelling articles about Sir Reginald or anodyne space-filling material such as how to look after your window box. Sometimes it will go for cheap sensationalism with pictures of postroom girls in bikinis (but these copies tend to be ripped up by the wives of the staff). It is clearly supported by Management since Hickford is often able to indulge his whims such as printing on high quality paper or in colour. And equally, important articles on how to make mince pies or decorate Easter bonnets do not come cheap. On the other hand, not a lot of thought seems to have gone into the special report on the 10 Best-Dressed men in C-Ps (no.1 - Sir Reginald, no. 2 - Robin Chester-Perry, etc)

It is unwise to totally underestimate Hickford's editorial skills. Who would have thought that FW Murgatroyd's "Pre-war shrimping holidays" would be the smash hit of the season?

The House Journal is popular with the tramps in the park, who value the warmth of its pages when spread over them at night, and it reaches a cult status when it publishes pictures of the Lady Chief Buyer (aka Barbidoll). And it even has its festive uses - strip 10601

Strip 10601 was published in the Evening Standard in December 1999.


Surprisingly, there was a time when Bristow was keen to write for the Journal. He himself withdrew the Lords of the Manor story from publication, fearing reprisals. Later on he was happy to submit searing denunciations of management, only to find that they were not exactly what Hickford had in mind strip 3793
Strip 3793 was published in the Evening Standard in May 1973 and in Bristow Extra. This scan is from the Melbourne Age June 1973
Bristow continues to submit the odd article but neither Brain surgery for beginners in 2006 or Cooking for the single man in 2009 meet with approval, whilst Jones' contribution on desktop football is published. As Hickford would say, some you win and some you lose.

The House Journal - Every benighted issue

 Not all quarterly issues of  the House Journal appear, but every time it does appear in the strips in my collection, it is listed below.

As a rule the winter number appears in February, the spring number in May, the summer number in August and the autumn number in November.

Highslide JS
Extract from Bristow 1966. Not published in this form in the Evening Standard though there are other strips on a similar theme.

1962

 

Spring

Bristow is impressed to be given the bumper spring number. We learn that it contains 36 pages and that its main feature is a centre spread photo of the Directors.  This is rapidly defaced with the addition of gratuitous moustaches, beards and spectacles. The HJ extols the importance of comfort for efficient working. Bristow regrets that it is not thicker as he uses it to steady his chair leg.

Autumn

The firm is doing well and the workers receive their fair reward in the form of a gossip column. Bristow is gripped by the amazing news stories, including the riveting announcement of the office cat’s second litter.

1963

 

Spring

Bristow has been writing Living Death in the Buying Department since April 1962. Word must have got around because he is asked to contribute items of news-worthy interest to the HJ. This of course goes to his head as he at once fancies himself as a journalist. He starts writing articles about Pilkington, whose recent promotion he deeply resents, then writes his cleverly barbed anti-management story about a cruel Lord of the Manor, abandons that for a swingeing attack on the cleaners, withdraws this when they threaten libel (written in the dust on his desktop, naturally) and finally takes the wise advice of the “new man” in the accounts who counsels flattery and honeyed words. Or does he? Some weeks later Bristow eagerly anticipates the publication of the bumper spring number which should contain a vicious attack on the management after all. But it never appears. This is the only time that Bristow attempts to get into print via the HJ. Or to put it another way, it is the last time he is asked.

Summer

The bumper summer number excels with articles such as “Our friends the tea ladies”. Regretting that Sir Reginald is missing out whilst on his summer cruise, Bristow fashions the magazine into a paper boat to be sailed out to him. This maritime endeavour is torpedoed by the eagle eyes of Barker.

Autumn

Business prospects are worsening according to the bumper Autumn number of the HJ. Bristow is seriously worried for Sir Reginald’s financial health (not). An article about how the management have the best interests of the staff at heart is dismissed as rubbish by Jones and Hewitt; Bristow contents himself by cutting up the HJ into a string of paper dolls.

1964

 

Winter

Bristow enjoys himself defacing the front cover, even though it is a photo of a snowy scene taken by Sir Reginald himself whilst holidaying in Switzerland. Having relished the article about the canteen, “refreshment as an incentive to work”, which he ignores as he stops work for his tea break, Bristow ensures that the firm’s founder does not miss out – the HJ is folded into a paper aeroplane to be air mailed directly to the snowbound tycoon.

Spring

Hickford is proud that the HJ contains a detailed account of the Chairman’s End of Year report. This is the issue that features a photo of Sir Reginald on the front cover, the only time the firm’s founder is ever pictured, and Bristow loses no time in defacing it by adding a beard, moustache, full head of hair and thick glasses. He is not taken by a promise of a bonus and despairs that far too much of the content is devoted to weddings of staff. Finally, hoping that Sir Reginald might call in to see the issue with his face on, a ticker tape welcome is arranged (courtesy of a well torn-up issue)

Summer

Wilting in the heat, the day is saved by the arrival of the HJ which can be folded to make a sun hat. The issue is packed with important articles such as “Dressmaking hints” by Dolly White. Bristow speculates about the pressure on the editors and how they choose articles (blindfold, probably), To ensure Sir Reginald, cruising round the world, does not miss out, a copy is airmailed (folded into a paper aeroplane and launched out of the window, anyway)

Autumn

The front cover depicts the steel and glass extension to the Northern Branch, quickly defaced to show every window broken. There are more exciting articles, including “What’s in your attic?” and Dolly White contributes “bottling preserves”. An article on the poor performance of the firm’s football team inspires the folding of the issue into a ball to be booted out of the window.

1965

 

Winter

Happy to be inside, so he doesn’t have to look at the C-P building, Bristow is disconcerted to find the building featured on the front cover. He is incensed about an lickspittle article on Robin Chester-Perry who is about to join the firm but reflects that if a word is out of place the editor will find himself on the street. Concerned that Sir Reginald might have missed the issue, which came out around 14th Feb, Bristow cuts it into a heart shape – “To my Valentine”.

Spring

Hickford proudly presents the 200th issue commemorating 50 years of the HJ. Bristow asks that it be placed straight into his pending tray (a.k.a. wastebasket). He is unimpressed by the modern art style cover (from someone in the drawing office) and utterly thrown by articles on engineering and computing. Even the invoices make better reading. However, in keeping with the scientific theme, Bristow manages to fold the magazine into a space satellite shape and launches it into outer space (or out of the window at any rate)

Summer

Hickford presses the HJ onto Bristow as he setting off on holiday – naturally the journal is “not wanted on voyage”

Autumn

Hickford is proud of the front cover but it is bad timing to give it to Bristow just as he is looking for scrap paper to jot a phone number down. He is unimpressed by the article “Filing is an art” but learns enough to know to file the HJ under “R” for rubbish.  The author of “filing is an art” is, of course, unable to locate his own copy under a pile of debris on his desk. Learning from the HJ that Miss Dolder of the typing pool is engaged, Bristow ensures a shower of confetti taken from a suitable source.

1966

 

Winter

Excited to find a package on his desk on Valentines Day, Bristow is not enthused when it turns out to be the bumper Winter number of the HJ. The lead story features “Radiant” Rosemary Rawlings, sexpot secretary of the Northern Branch. When the journal goes missing, it turns up as the nest material of the pigeon at the window.

Spring

This issues arrives unusually late, on 22 June to be precise. Hickford is not at all happy but a lack of contributions has forced a reduction in size. All to the good says Bristow, less room taken up in the wastepaper basket.

Summer

Not featured (no doubt due to the late arrival of the bumper spring issue)

Autumn

“There are few sounds as pleasing as the crackle  and crunch of leaves underfoot”. Yes indeed and when they are the leaves of the journal, even more so. Apart from that bit, Bristow finds the HJ hard going and proudly folds it into a dunces cap.

Winter

The winter journal, normally issued in February, becomes a Christmas edition. Hickford rashly presents it in person to Bristow who is quick to fold it into the shape of a cracker ready to be pulled to bits

1967

 

Spring

The winter issue was early and the spring number is late, delivered by Hickford in mid April. Bristow ensures that it goes directly into his “out” tray and sees off Hickford by quoting word for word from Sir Reginald’s inspiring foreword before he has actually seen it. He then dismisses the article by the firm’s nurse, appealing that any accident however small is reported to her, as a ploy to protect her own job and finally turns the HJ into a huge cut out doily, just in time for tea.

Summer

Bristow finds a copy of the Myles & Rudge House Journal in the park. Thick, glossy and rich in content it puts the C-P version to shame [strip 2015] Hickford bemoans that he gets no support or recognition; never mind, Bristow’s scissors are quick to cut out a nice row of medals from him using materials to hand (hint: not the Myles & Rudge issue)

Winter

Once again the winter issue is issued early as a Christmas edition. Perhaps a mistake to include details of the Dinner and Dance though, as Bristow is quick to fold it into the shape of a handy napkin.

1968

 

Spring

Confusingly the issue that Hickford touts around in February is described as the “bumper spring number”. He is overjoyed that Bristow wishes to take it with him for lunch in the park but it is the dampness of the seats, not a lack of reading material that Bristow is worried about. A tramp, an ex-C-P man, recognises it and it is handed over – HJs make good impromptu blankets after all.

Summer

There is a passing reference to a dog-eared HJ that Bristow borrows from Dimkins but nothing specific

Autumn

Hickford makes it plain that “truth” and “House Journal” share different worlds, especially as Sir Reginald has hinted heavily that he takes a keen interest. The article on collecting milk bottle tops sounds like a winner. It was a mistake for Hickford to hand Bristow his copy as the latter was standing by an open window though…

1969

 

Spring

The spring issue is brought in with the news that Hickford is handing over his stewardship to another. Bristow is a little premature with his ripping up of the magazine; the erstwhile editor has been promoted. Perhaps his “Personal tribute to Sir Reginald” had something to do with it. The clerks are not impressed. As to the man he leap-frogged to become head of department, the ever-concerned Bristow folds him a nice Dunce’s cap from his copy of the HJ.

Summer

A sensational photo of Polly Perkins of the post-room, bikini-clad on the beach at Mudsea, generates massive interest with clerks suddenly finding urgent mail to be despatched, and massive embarrassment when the wives of the same clerks find the offending article in their husbands’ briefcases. Hickford, despite his promotion, continues to be the editor.

1970

 

Winter

The report on the Christmas dinner and dance draws attention to a certain bread-roll thrower, whose identity is a mystery. And will remain so if Bristow has anything to do with it.

Autumn

The wedding of Robin Chester-Perry and Fiona Myles is the lead story. And indeed the only story. The photo of all of the staff at the windows to wish the happy couple well is heart-warming, and spoilt only by a mystery clerk more intent on feeding the birds. The postboy somehow latches on to this and plies a little blackmail with Bristow, only to overplay his hand by trying to con all the clerks that each is the offender.

1971

 

Spring

Appearing in March, the lead article is “Focus on Food”, an in-depth study of Mr. Blue and the canteen. The master chef’s dexterity with the tin-opener is, surprisingly, omitted.

Summer

Bristow is quick to chuck out of the window this issue, containing as it does the plans for the new extension to the Northern Branch. But the fates blow it into the hands of the Blondini Brothers, recently given the contract to build the Myles & Rudge extension, and that building rapidly changes to resemble the Northern Branch

1972

 

Spring

The Chester-Perry football team adorn the front cover and Bristow takes advantage of free admittance to anyone sporting the HJ at the next match. His choice of streamer to chuck at the opposing goalkeeper is not what Hickford expected.

Summer

Toady Thompson’s mini scale model of the Chester-Perry building is the highlight of the issue. Bristow’s attempt to construct it seems more like a few sheets of paper stuck together than an accurate model but it does not last long since his copy of “Builders Gazette” contains a scaled down demolition order.

Autumn

The “10 best dressed men at Chester-Perry’s” is the star feature. Perhaps unsurprisingly the list is topped by Sir Reginald, then by Robin Chester-Perry, his young son and various senior functionaries.

1973

 

Spring

Bristow submits an article for publication. Alas, as it is a vitriolic attack on Sir Reginald, Hickford feels unable to include it.

Autumn

Hickford introduces a new feature “Market Place” for readers to buy and sell second-hand items. Bristow ranks it as fascinating as “Allotments are fun” but his scorn backfires when he reads of the holiday properties for sale in the Mediterranean (apply Charlie of the Machine Shop) and Jones goes berserk on finding a paraffin heater offered for sale. Hickford is somewhat disappointed with the response and for editorial reasons is forced to reject small ads for “French lessons”, “surgical goods” and “massage”.

1974

 

Spring

Worried that there is too much company news and policy statements, Hickford seeks advice. Foolishly he places trust in Bristow who suggests a free “I hate Chester-Perry’s” T-shirt with each issue. The resulting issue (minus the T-shirt), full of Easter based articles, arrives several weeks after Easter. Hickford blames the lack of contributors, and the absence through illness of Toady Thompson (the only one who does not care that writing for the HJ means being seen as a tool of the management). He confides his production problems, and the sneering comments from all his readers about the lateness, to Bristow, producing the memorable dialogue:
“Honestly, one more crack or rude remark and I’ll jump straight out of that window”
“Better do it now if you want the news to make the bumper Autumn number”
But it all ends positively as Bristow assures the forlorn editor that so many great writers began on a  humble House Journal, though whether Shakespeare, Shaw, Tolstoy and the like really did produce little magazines for clerks is perhaps open to doubt.

Summer

The summer issue is not featured but a game of desktop football attracts the interest of Hickford in the guise of sports correspondent.

Autumn

Hickford has taken the lesson of the late spring issue to heart. The Autumn issue, in early November, is full of Christmas fare

1975

 

Autumn

Bristow’s suggestion that Hickford lay the bumper issue in the sunlight, place a magnifying glass on top and stand well back is not followed. The paint Sir Reginald by numbers article (author: T Thompson) fails to impress but Bristow does like Hickford’s swingeing attack on the management, the unions and his fellow clerks (or least, that is how Bristow chooses to interpret it).

1976

 

Spring

Hickford’s cover photo leads to wonderment about Nature – the process by which perfectly good trees become House Journals. The article of medieval tapestries is sufficiently soporific that Bristow can doze off whilst reading it. The dustbin men notice the extra weight as they clear the Chester-Perry yard.

1977

 

Winter

It’s a mistake for Hickford to stand by whilst Jones and Bristow peruse the latest issue because the first thing they always do is look for the spelling mistakes. Bristow then demonstrates a wonderful magic trick, ripping up the HJ to shreds, hiding it under his handkerchief and then, miraculously, it stays ripped up. Hickford is seen asking every member of staff what they thought of the magazine. Every single one tells him it is rubbish but he exhibits a magnificent optimism with his “Some you win, some you lose” approach. But at the editors meeting things are less rosy. The photo of the postroom at the Western branch is criticised. Nobody likes the article “keep your hamster happy” or the series on tea cosies, and it is resignations all round (bar the ebullient editor, of course).

Spring

The spring edition is a little late but no matter, it is a bumper Jubilee edition to mark 25 years of the Chester-Perry organisation (and purely co-incidence that the Queen was celebrating 25 years on the throne at the time).  Bristow is delighted; he was looking for something to light the bonfire.

Autumn

There has been a wave of corridor muggings and the latest victim is Hickford, whose clutch of magazines is swept from his hands by an eager gang of clerks.

1978

 

Winter

Bristow enjoys the skiing picture on the cover that introduces the winter sports supplement, more so as he reckons up how many bones the daring ski-jumper managed to break. Hickford (he never learns) asks for feedback and gets Bristow’s comments broadcast through a giant Alpine horn made from carefully selected material

Summer

Mr. Blue’s “Kwik T.V. snax” feature (“take one boar’s head and one large apple”) fails to impress. But Bristow’s scorn for FW Murgatroyd’s article on “Pre-war shrimping holidays” is utterly misplaced. You can’t get into Murgatroyd’s office for clerks reminiscing about their own shrimping holidays and slapping FW on the back for his brilliantly evocative essay.

1979

 

Winter

Bristow’s indecision about what to have to lunch is easily resolved when the HJ is delivered – voila – Fish and Chips. Hickford’s cheery summery seaside picture cheers up the readers but his feature on what it’s like to edit a House Journal probably does the reverse. Bristow’s criticism is unusually effective  - “I just passed old Hickford crawling along the corridor like some wounded animal” and the editorial committee can barely disguise their pleasure when the editor ponders resignation.

Summer

The HJ arrives with perfect timing as there are flies to be swatted in the Buying Department. Hickford’s feature on the midday temperatures on every Chester-Property around the world is not well received and he once again cannot resist asking for a frank opinion.  “He asked for my honest opinion” “My God you didn’t tell him?” “Of course” “Don't you realise that’s the worst thing you can do  to a house journal editor” – and the scene cuts to a window ledge where Hickford contemplates ending it all.

Autumn

Bristow seems to have contributing articles – or at least ideas for articles – but Hickford decides not to proceed with the one about Sir Reginald and the typist, or the allegations about the head of accounts and some fiscal irregularities.

1980

 

Spring

Sir Reginald writes a nice message to school leavers who have recently joined, using appropriately condescending language. Hickford foolishly tells Bristow how much he enjoys being an editor “I think that’s tantamount to a confession – string him up, lads”. Undeterred Hickford slinks back to his office to begin work on the bumper summer number.

1981

 

Autumn

As usual Bristow requests that his copy is placed directly into his wastepaper basket. When he does bother to read the issue, he finds a letter praising the Chester-Perry organisation and Sir Reginald – the editor requests no correspondence. This letter causes some unrest amongst the clerks.

1982

 

Summer

Bristow collects his copy on the 6th floor “This is where they keep the shredder”. But he fails to shred it and instead reads, and has a hyperactive attack, the article “Garden gnomes: a critique”; the nurse in the sick bay seems ready for such occurrences. However the article about the only survivor of the Great Tea Trolley Disaster of ’67 is well worth waiting for. However Hickford is despondent – he wrote an article attacking the unions, was told publish and be damned and “I did and I’m going to be”

Autumn

Signs in the office corridors asking clerks to “Queue here for your House Journal” attract extremely small crowds. Well, nobody, actually. The Journal has definitely got up-to-date with its review of videos, including “For adults only – The Great Tea Trolley Disaster of ‘67”. But Hickford, hoping his brainchild would have lasting value, is disappointed to find copies thrown away all over the building. Redemption is at hand, though, as Mr. Fudge himself gives the hapless editor a “Well done”.

1983

 

Winter

Not featured but Bristow has a run-in with the firm’s nasty piece of work, one Sykes, and having got the better of it (it is not clear how) demands a “Full page retraction in the firm’s House Journal”

Spring

Not an issue for Bristow to relish as he is named all over it in such sections as “Persistent latecomer” “longest tea break” and “blatant misuse of office equipment. Furthermore, due to some stupid error, everyone in the building thinks he has a sewing machine to sell.

Summer

Issued rather late in September, Hickford finds no eager takers as he touts around the corridors going “Read all about it”. But his cunning plan to name everyone in the firm and thereby guarantee a huge readership is inspired. However his choice of content remains controversial – as Bristow reminds him, knitting patterns and recipes are out – people want to know how much Sir Reginald earns and who is sleeping with whom. The recipe submitted by the shady Mr, X (a stand-in for Mr. Blue) is also unusual, beginning as it does “first steal a dozen eggs”

1984

 

Spring

Hickford feels let down by the bumper spring number but is perhaps unwise to regard the HJ as the “clerical equivalent of Playboy”. He is quick to recruit to his team a ferret-faced kid found snooping in the corridors – it is not clear whether this does anything to improve the content or the circulation.

Summer

The summer issue is again a little late but arrives in time for Bristow to use it to prop up his desk. The thickness of the magazine is explained by its massive section of readers’ problems. Bristow is disconcerted by the competition showing a picture of the offices where one employee has his feet on the desk “If these feet are yours, come in and collect your cards”

1985

 

Spring

Described as “zingy” by its Hickford, a certain Miss Julia Thorn has had some sort of influence. Bristow wrecks the potential romance ‘twixt editor and contributor by insinuating that she is after his job.

1986

 

Spring

The House Journal is printed in colour using the latest technology, cunningly printing anything the management might dislike so faded that it cannot be read. Hickford thinks that the new technology is an advantage because production can be speeded up. Bristow disagrees for precisely the same reason.

Summer

Not featured but Toady Thompson looks forward to reading it at the beach whilst on his foreign holiday.

1987

 

Spring

The management seize every copy due to a breach of the Chester-Perry Secrets Act. Bristow ponders who the mole might be, who might be able to move freely around the building unnoticed. He works on the case and is able to unmask Mrs. Purdy the tea lady as the culprit.

Autumn

The House Journal continues to have problems with the new colour technology, but Bristow enjoys the picture of Sir Reginald that highlights his blue jowls, bloodshot eyes and purple nose.

1988

 

Spring

The firm’s shredder seems to have been revamped to cope with extra House Journals. However Bristow finds it riveting, especially the picture of Mr. Fudge fighting with the paparazzi and is happy to let the phone ring whilst he reads.

1989

 

Spring

Issued very late in June during a heat wave (and by Atkins of all people), Bristow is pleased to have something to flap about to make a breeze.

Summer

In July Bristow is reading what is said to be the Spring issue but it seems more likely to be the Summer one. He is unimpressed with the glamour shot of the girls in the typing pool

1990

 

Spring

Whether the front cover is a photo of nodding daffodils or Chester-Perry yes-men is hard to tell. Hickford is proud of his scoop in publishing an article on how to make gooseberry chutney but errs in asking Bristow to rate the publication as it scores Nul Points in all categories. He then laments to Atkins that no sooner has he handed round the latest issue but he hears the sound of the shredder.

1991

 

Winter

The winter number appears late in March. There is an article slating the management and Bristow would like to shake his hand but Hickford warns him off “We’re keeping him in a safe house”

Spring

Not featured, however at this time Bristow writes an unauthorised biography of the firm’s founder and hopes it might be published in the House Journal. He is disappointed.

Autumn

Bristow finds a copy of the 1963 HJ at the back of his desk just as Hickford comes in with the new one. They are uncannily alike. Hickford, most out of character, boasts about the scandalous nature of his publication. Asked where the HJ should be filed, Bristow answers “put that under Codswallop”

1992

 

Summer

The article on French Polishing is clearly important but the  update on the on-off romance between Miss Pringle of Accounts and Charles Waites of Sales is the eye-catcher. But Bristow is let down by the Page 3 photo – “Who wants to see Miss Myerling of the Typing Pool with her top button undone?” and feels that the article on Socrates is out of place (reason for inclusion: Hickford forced to improvise when a promised contribution failed to appear)

1993

 

Autumn

Hickford is pleased when a reader turns up to complain – at least he has a reader.

1994

 

Spring

Bristow reads the entire issue and concludes he must have been brainwashed.

1998

 

Spring

Bristow foolishly bins his issue without reading it. Too late he learns it contains a photo of the new Chief Buyer, Fudge’s replacement, and a lady to boot! He cannot obtain another copy – it is at once a collectors’ item.

Winter

This issue appears a little early, in late December. Buying clerks hoping for a White Christmas are disappointed as the white flakes gently falling from above are the torn up copy from the man in the office upstairs.

1999

 

Spring

Hickford boasts it is the first issue in colour (wrong: see 1986) and the gremlins are still creeping in. Bristow is not actually Head of Development. The endless derision has brought Hickford to the point of chucking it in – but there is no sympathy in the Buying Department “Give someone else a chance – that’s not a bad idea”

Winter

A special Christmas edition and a chance for Bristow to make a funny hat out of something that happens to be lying around

2000

 

Autumn

Bristow congratulates Hickford as he distributes the HJ on the second floor – Do you intend to keep going? You’re a glutton for punishment”

2001

 

Spring

A simple “no thanks” to Hickford’s proffered copy leads to the editor being reduced to a gibbering wreck. Worse is to come  - suddenly given the choice between his editorship and his marriage, he chooses the Journal. Insanely, he spills his troubles to Bristow “Is it what I’m doing worth it?” “No”

2002

 

Spring

A  man called Crawford announces himself as the new editor. He finds distribution of the issue somewhat difficult as everybody is saying “no thanks” but seems resigned to it “Every House Journal editor I ever met died of a broken heart”

2003

 

Spring

 Looks like Hickford has resumed his traditional role and as Bristow comments “I remember the days when we used to look forward to reading the House Journal”, his reply is “Do you go back that far?.” But he has still not learned to refrain from asking for feedback, for as Bristow points out “Nobody actually reads it”

Autumn

The HJ reveals that Sir Reginald is taking an interest in modern art “So it’s goodbye Christmas bonus”. There are a few exciting new pull-out features, but the “pull-out-your-trouser-pockets-and-let’s-see-how-much-money-you-have-left-by-the-end-of-the-week” section. And the sections on gangsta rap and skateboarding have the approval of at least one middle-aged clerk.

2004

 

Spring

Hickford is hurt that Bristow thinks he needs no more than fifteen minutes to put the House Journal together. There are new contributors but given that “Bird nesting for beginners” was written by Sir Reginald’s 6 year old nephew, they may not make the grade.

2005

 

Winter

A new editor, who opines that all the issues are the same whatever the season, meets with Bristow’s approval. Hickford has apparently left to work in publishing (and enjoys his job as a delivery driver). Miss Sunman is happy since every page mentions love. Reports about harsh practices at the Northern Branch are dismissed – “Staff beatings and torture is wishful thinking”

Spring

As the issue is devoted to desktop football, Bristow is subject to an in-depth interview. The new editor passes round rumours about why Hickford quit but finds the claim that he is editing The Times disbelieved.

Summer

Distributed in October, yet another new editor, one Perkins, hopes people will find it interesting because it has news about the company. “In which case you are on a hiding to nothing”: R. Bristow. Atkins of Accounts pens an article attacking the management and finds his friends deserting.

2006

 

Winter

A scathing attack on the food in the canteen draws Bristow’s interest – “The writer ate there and lived to tell the tale?” The new editor gets the usual contumely but now Hickford is set up as the unattainable standard “He knew what his readers wanted but alas! He took his secret with him to the grave”.

Summer

a strip set in summer 2006 refers to Hickford as editor once more. And not long after the House Journal is “highly commended” by the “House Journal Society”. The HJ contains an article about desktop football by Jones, a subject which is said he knows nothing about (a bit odd since there are plenty of examples showing him playing the game but anyway). Galled by this, Bristow offers “Brain Surgery for Beginners” and is rejected. Jones, now a “regular contributor” puts the boot in.

2007

 

Spring

An issue devoted to the early years of Sir Reginald creates nausea. Hickford finds old photos of the firm’s founder on Ebay. Miss Sunman finds them “adorable”.

Summer

Hickford boasts of a wonderful new contributor who will be a major writer in years to come.  Sir Reginald approves. Publishers are interested.  TV beckons. The hitherto unknown author is Miss Sunman. ‘nuff said.

2008

 

Spring

Hickford is overjoyed when one of the kids in the postroom is seen reading the HJ – a whole new young audience opens up. One of the articles is about “How to lead a rich and famous lifestyle”. Sir Reginald orders the HJ to be banned and every copy destroyed. The hunt is on for the author of this subversive piece who appears to be hiding out in the filing cabinets

Summer

The Society of House Journal Editors give the C-P journal an award for excellence. But when Bristow suggests the journal cover drugs in the workplace Hickford (drawn to look uncannily like Atkins at this time) recoils “Something real? We are a house journal. We don't do real

2009

 

Spring

Hickford briefs his assistant to distribute 45 copies and, since he will have to arm-wrestle each recipient, that he has all afternoon to finish the job. Following the usual criticism, Hickford reminisces about the good old days when one could curl up in bed with a cup of cocoa and a House Journal. The hunt is on for new writers. Bristow (how did he get enrolled into the search team?) suggests timorous little men with big glasses. Then he seeks out Miss Sunman after her success in 2007 but she declines “I lost my heart and with it the will to communicate with the outside world”

2010

 

Spring

Bristow is foolish to dismiss the spring issue because it contains an article that begins “Welcome to new girl Miss Pretty from Kleenaphone” (her next move is to date Erroll Chester-Perry, ne’er do well son of the firm’s founder). Soon after another spring issues appears in which Bristow’s article on “Cooking for the single man” is not included but a quarter of a million words on Lamination by Sir Reginald are.

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