Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Ballad of Peckham Rye by Muriel Spark (Penguin Books 1960)

'In feeding the line!' Dougal said

'In feeding the line,' Mr Druce said. 'As I say, this expert came from Cambridge. But we felt that a Cambridge man in Personnel wouldn't do. What we feel about you is you'll be in touch with the workers, or rather, as we prefer to say, our staff; you'll be in the know, we feel. Of course you'll find the world of Industry a tough one.'

Dougal turned sideways in his chair and gazed out of the window at the railway bridge; he was now a man of vision with a deformed shoulder. 'The world of Industry,' said Dougal, 'throbs with human life. It will be my job to take the pulse of the people and plumb the industrial depths of Peckham.'

Mr Druce said: 'Exactly. You have to bridge the gap and hold out a helping hand. Our absenteeism,' he said, 'is a problem.'

'They must be bored with their jobs,' said Dougal in a split second of absent-mindedness.

'I wouldn't say bored, ' said Mr Druce. 'Not bored. Meadows Meade are building up a sound reputation with regard to their worker-staff. We have a training scheme, a recreation scheme and a bonus scheme. We haven't yet got a pension scheme, or a marriage scheme, or a burial scheme, but these will come. Comparatively speaking we are a small concern, I admit, but we are expanding.'

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