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The Chester-Perry Co

A C-P miscellany,  or
Round and about the Chester-Perry Organisation

 
 

Other Departments

There is far more to Chester-Perry's than the Buying Department. We know of Costing, Goods Inwards, Production Control, Accounts, Sales, Invoicing, Legal, Personnel, Advertising and Public Relations. There is the Factory on the ground floor, a Transport department in the yard and the canteen somewhere round the back. All telephone calls are routed through the Switchboard where the girls plug in the wires and listen in to anything that takes their fancy. Mail is distributed from the Post Room by the Post-Boy and his mates. There is also an shadowy group who handle incoming parcels - "Sorry squire can't help you, its in the System". And somewhere in the depths, the Stores provide stationery, office furniture and incredulity at some of Bristow's requests (on being asked to leave an office in the state in which he would like to find it, he asks the Storeman "do you have such a thing as an axe?"

The worst department to work in is Costing where the boss works in a glass-walled office and spends his time with his face pressed up against it watching his staff. Bristow makes a big number to show his concern "I wouldn’t like to have that ugly old devil watching me". "Careful Bristow he lip-reads" Bristow turns and speaks out of the corner of his voice "oh really"

Rather surprisingly, the firm provides in-house medical care with a nurse (who spends most of her time instructing the malingering clerks to get back to work). Either that or she is swamped with love-lorn wimps, limp with anguish following a visit by Miss Pretty of Kleenaphone.

The firm’s colours

Sir Reginald himself is the inspiration behind any colour scheme, including the decoration of offices, the colours his jockeys ride in, and the uniforms for the Glee Club, Works Brass band and the firm's soccer team. The colours are always themed on clerical grey, paper white and carbon paper blue and reveal an unexpected affection for the office, which is not normally apparent in the behavior of the firm's founder.

Artists impression of the C-P flag as designed by Sir Reginald. 

The firm's standard

Fluttering over the C-P building whenever Sir Reginald is in residence, it bears his personal message to the staff 
" Sir Reginald expects every man will do his duty".

Sexism

Chester-Perry is a typical old-fashioned British Company. Dickens accurately mirrors reality by depicting the roles taken by men and women. At C-Ps the secretaries, catering staff (except for the Chef!), switchboard operators and cleaners are all female. The office staff, management and factory workers are all male. There can be no question of anyone crossing these boundaries. Until that is, the epoch-making moment when a lady was appointed Chief Buyer and Fudge was kicked upstairs. The new Chief Buyer never made an appearance and eventually Fudge reappeared doing his old job, so maybe nothing has really changed.

The same is true of Gun and Fames and any other institutions in the strip.

The Northern branch

The Northern branch is not, of course, based in the C-P building but most of the references to it come from visits from its staff (which generally cause utter mayhem). Based unmistakably in Yorkshire it features quaint characters who refer to London as "the smoke" and a cheeky youngster called Ernie ("proper daft our Ernie"). The boss is Mr. Ramsbottom. 

Typical dialogue on hearing that Lady Chester-Perry is to pay them a visit.

Ernie : "What does she want with us with her hoity-toity ways"
Ramsbottom : "Nay lad sitthee where there’s muck there’s brass"

The young graduate, Barker, who irritates Bristow by his very existence, is a product of the Northern branch.

In February 2003 a series of strips on frankdickens.com revealed much more about this key outpost of the C-P empire. A so-called goodwill visit is announced by an anonymous manager "They are waiting downstairs. Go and get them Bristow. The rest of you fasten down everything that can be fastened down and hide everything you can lay your hands on". The visit is not a success. There is bitter rivalry between the respective buying departments, trouble when Miss Sunman falls for one Stan Pike (hobbies - racing pigeons) and eventually an all-out war. ("Pass me that paperweight"). The Northern branch take over the post-room but their visit is cut short and they return home, leaving a trail of broken hearts in the typing pool and much missing furniture.

Two Men in the corridor

Highslide JS
Strip 4852 was published in the Evening Standard in March 1977. This scan is from the Sydney Morning Herald March 1977
Like any large organisation, there are frequent visitors to the Chester-Perry Building. We often encounter one of them, escorted through the corridors by a mentor. They pass the canteen and hear a voice within chanting "Double double toil and trouble fire burn and cauldron bubble" - this is Mr. Gordon Blue making Christmas puddings. They may look into public relations where Mario, Lefty Bugsy and Guiseppe are ready to deal with any complaints. And their path will eventually lead down that corridor that passes the Buying Department. There they may observe the buying clerks playing desk-top football, downing everything for tea or just occasionally doing some work. Bristow is invariably pointed as the man eighteenth in line for Chief Buyer. This will be when he is making paper aeroplanes or counting on his fingers. He may be arm-wrestling with a temp (to assert his authority) or showing slides of the girl in the orange bikini to a packed and hushed audience. On the whole it does not seem the visitor is impressed. But the day that Fudge returns after an unexpected absence, during which time Jones was appointed acting-in-charge and made the mistake of lording it over Bristow - that was a day to remember strip 4393
Strip 4393 was published in the Evening Standard in May 1975. This scan is from the Melbourne Age June 1975

 

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