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24 November 2015


Allan Ronald

Thank you for this informative and informed study. It will send me back to the Sayer novel. Charles and Lupin Pooter came to mind as examples of the office class at the latter end of the 19th century and a whole raft of 'Punch' cartoons. I was lucky enough to retrieve the bound volumes of the first 50 years of 'Punch' from a college where I studied (they were bound for a skip but £5 made them mine) and it is a complete treasure trove of social attitudes many of them similar to those you outline above (and some shockingly worse--Jews, Irish, servant gals).


I was staying in a cottage in Skye where there was a set of bound Punches from 1910-1920. Much joking about commuting. However it was assumed that your life was your own when you left the office and the white collar workers had time for gardening and cricket. They didn't have such exotic holidays - a week in Margate seems to be the standard - but their day to day life looks a lot pleasanter and a little more rural. You can say the same about Pooter. He works conscientiously at a dull job but maintains quite a decent standard of living for him and Carrie. Of course what sets him apart from the last 30 years or so is the assumption that you will work in the same organisation all your life.


Also, I had a look at the 1973 television adaptation of Murder Must Advertise. Ian Carmichael a bit too old for the part but otherwise very good, and the look and feel of the office felt right. Not open plan those days.

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