Saturday, September 26, 2020

"Mayhem in the Bank of England's Clerk's Office"

From Delancey Place, September 15:

Today's selection -- from Till Time's Last Sand: A History of the Bank of England 1694-2013 by David Kynaston.
Perhaps humans were never really intended for 9 to 5 office work. At the very least, in the mid-1800s in prim and proper Victorian England, clerks were having trouble remaining staid and genteel during that span, even at the esteemed Bank of England. One even wrote that his department was like a "big school playground":
"In reality, moreover, the [Bank of England] was never, whether before or after 1850, as orderly and purposeful as those in charge might have wished. Between 1837 and 1845 alone, at least three acrimonious disputes between clerks were noted in the Court minutes: in one, an argument about the quality of the food led to post-prandial blows and a nosebleed; in another, the hurling of a large bill case, accompanied by 'very gross & low abuse', resulted from the refusal to part with an inkstand; and in a third, the tussle over an office stool led to a severe blow in the face, rendering the recipient 'incapable of resuming his work for the remainder of the day'. 
Or take the formative impressions of W. Courthope Forman and C. H. Goodman, both of whom started work in 1866 in the Private Drawing Office. A 'busy hive', indeed, found Forman, but with 'a good many quaint insects':
There was a youngish gentleman on the ledgers, who made remarkably clever caricatures and sketches in pen and ink, sometimes even upon the covers of the sacred books. There was a little rotund, elderly gentleman, with a short temper and a colossal skull, who frequently murdered the Queen's English in a manner that was a real delight....

 Previously on the clerks:
Wage Slaves at the 18th Century Bank of England

And more generally:
The first nine years of the Bank of England. An enquiry into a weekly record of the price of bank stock from August 17, 1694 to September 17, 1703 (1887)