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Out on the Mean Streets
The Traffic Warden
Clumping round the streets with her eye ever open for offenders, the Traffic Warden 232 is the enemy of Sampson of Sales, the adversary of Sir Reginald’s chauffeur strip 2463 - and a cause of delight to the clerks watching from the office windows. A lady whose views on any subject coincide with those of the Department of Transport (whichever party is in power) and who becomes agitated at the sight of a vandalised traffic meter (to the point of vandalising a phone box that doesn't accept her coins).
Bristow, who no longer drives to work, has no reason to fear her. He rather enjoys watching her distribute tickets to anyone rash enough to park on her patch. But when she issues a ticket to Miss Pretty of Kleenaphone his ire is raised and he becomes rather abusive. The warden shrugs it all off - she is used to insults and accepts it as part of the job.
Eventually her hard heart is softened by the local policeman, a man fond of telling Bristow to "move along" even when he is shuffling into the staff entrance at C-Ps.But the spirt of Christmas fails to move her in the the way that it should - strip 2713
Another officious little man in uniform, the Park-keeper runs his park for his own benefit and does everything he can to frustrate the clerks who like to flock there during good weather. Painting the benches and omitting the "wet paint" signs is an old standby, as is fixing the water fountain to drench anyone who uses it. Never happier than shouting "Keep off the grass, Dogs must be led" etc, the keeper is usually fairly friendly to Bristow but turns nasty on the day he learns his initials, since these were hacked into his favourite oak. This soon blows over - the park-keeper has more important things to do such as putting up some friendly signs. Let us eavesdrop on a fairly typical encounter one bright Spring day depicted in strip 4861 .
Bristow often encounters tramps when he visits the park. Possibly it's always the same tramp, but their meetings usually starts with the tramp retelling his sad life story. He will be an old Chester-Perry man, still nostalgic for the canteen and corridors of the office. He will have fallen from high office. Perhaps he said something out of line or maybe made the terrible mistake of falling for a temp. Now he is reduced to walking the streets in search of newspapers to keep himself warm. He instantly recognises Bristow as a C-P man by the House Journal, as in strip 2191 - (which Bristow always takes in case the benches are damp). To Bristow he is the living symbol of the awful fate that awaits him should he ever be sacked. When the papers are stacked high on the desk and Fudge is ranting and raving, Bristow need only think of his tattered friend bedding down for the night beneath copies of the House Journal and he knows to keep his lip buttoned.
Young Mr. Boggis is one of the uncounted number of bright schoolkids who gave it all up to join C-Ps and were badly disillusioned. Rather foolishly he tells Bristow that he wanted a job where he could use his initiative. Bristow responds with an initative test of his own - strip 4980 .Then he runs foul of Bristow on his third day, who catches him inscribing graffiti in the lift and causes his dismissal. Boggis takes revenge in two ways - kicking Bristow furiously in the shins (safely covered with Jones' blotting paper) and then getting a job at Myles & Rudge in the office across the street and angling his telephone to dazzle Bristow.
Then he sets up as a disco operator and naturally Elvis Boggis Travellin’ Music is booked to play the Sports & Social Club Annual Christmas Dinner & Dance. Wisely he draws his van up to the rear entrance and keeps the engine running. The dance continues as normal so perhaps the C-P masses enjoy Mr. Boggis' choice of popular music.
Bristow works there as buying clerk for a few years. We learn this on the day that he runs into young Taylor who used to work with him. Inspired by Bristow’s determination to become a brain surgeon, Taylor leaves and builds up a successful ice-cream business.
Bristow also meets Bernard Gentle and (separately) Arthur Aspel some years later. Gentle knows Bristow has made it as a brain surgeon "Its only the really successful who can dress down like that". Aspel, another one inspired by Bristow’s departure, is working as Santa Claus in a large store. "Drop in any time "says Bristow as he says goodbye "There’s always a fire burning in my hearth".
Effandee seems to be a business partner of Chester-Perry's. One day Bristow receives a mystery phone call. The caller refuses to announce his identity and naturally Bristow spends a considerable amount of time in trying to guess. The caller turns out to be one Peter Thirkettle. The call ends in the usual way strip 5347
The Greedy Fella sandwich bar has a tragically short life. It opens in a blaze of glory near the C-P building and soon attracts many clerks away from Mr. Gordon Blue's stodgy cuisine. It even impresses the notoriously difficult Peterson of Public Relations in strip 3139 . But the pressure of inventing new fillings, preventing the curse of curly sandwiches and the sheer competition soon tell.
Why the odd name? It must be pure coincidence that the manageress used to work in the Gun & Fames canteen where so much crockery and cutlery, decorated with that firm's initials, was to hand.
This is the place to go for exploding cigars, electric handshakes, fake spiders and ink blots and arrows sticking out from the head. Bristow is a regular customer, particularly before any formal occasion or when a temp is expected in the typing pool. There used to be a fair number of these shops but these days people just don't appreciate the joy of a fake plastic fried egg or a cushion that makes a farting noise like they used to.
A regular customer places his usual order (just before the Christmas Dinner & Dance, before you ask) Also, don't ask why Joe appears to be a Frenchman.
In 1974 the thrilling menace of the Dreaded Hulines burst on the scene, breathlessly announced by a panicking Dimkins. in Strip 4208 The Hulines are the clerical equivalent of the Rockers of the 1960s or the skinheads that were to come later that decade, a bunch of white-collar thugs who use their flailing briefcases to wreak havoc in the high street during their lunch breaks- or so Dimkins claims. Hard evidence suggests that he is either having a breakdown or is stoned out of his skull. No trace of the Hulines, dreaded or otherwise was to be found - or so it appeared.
In July 1999 a rebellious temp (from Tillies) claims to Bristow that she has been asked to join an escape group tunnelling under the canteen and that this group was actually the Dreaded Hulines. How on earth did they infiltrate the Chester-Perry Building?In August 2008, on Frank Dickens website, a new twist emerges as Bristow, curious about the much-frequented broom cupboard on his corridor learns that the Dreaded Hulines are behind its conversion into a private members' club. We are even given a reference from Google to verify the existence of the Hulines. But a dawn raid on the cupboard by the C-P security staff puts paid to their nefarious activities.
Thanks to the Times Online Whos Who 2005, we learn that Frank Dickens surname is really Huline-Dickens. Frank was reputed to be quite a wild lad during the 1960s. So it seems that he may himself be the model for the dreaded Hulines. Internet searches throw up at least one book whose author is a Huline-Dickens.