Season’s Greetings From Bryant & May

Bryant and May

‘It’s all stored away up here.’ Arthur Bryant tapped his temple. ‘My head’s like an attic full of ephemera, old record albums, paperbacks you can’t bear to throw out and those moulds dentists used to make of your teeth.’

May sighed and pulled his chair closer to his desk. ‘Okay,’ he said, ‘do you want to talk about it?’

Bryant’s refulgent blue eyes widened. ‘What?’

‘Well there’s obviously something on your mind that’s making you introspective, so out with it.’

‘I think the world has moved into a new technological phase, and it hasn’t taken me with it.’

‘I could have told you that years ago.’

‘All these apps and drones and smart-doodads – they don’t make life simpler or easier. What’s the point of buying things online that don’t fit when you can go to the shops? I don’t understand what anyone gets at the end of it all.’

‘Have you tried asking Dan Banbury?’

‘Yes, he spoke to me in great detail. When I woke up he’d gone.’

‘Look,’ said May, ‘this is you.’ He cleared a space on their conjoined desks and placed a pencil on it. ‘You see something online that you want to buy, and you contact the seller.’ He placed a rubber band next to the pencil. ‘This seller takes your money and passes your information along to another company, who pays the seller.’ Here he set down his fountain pen. ‘The company uses your details to find you another product, advertising it on the site you first looked at, and sells you something new. Everyone pays everyone else.’

‘I’m not happy being a pencil,’ Bryant complained. ‘I’d be happier as a fountain pen. The pen makes more money.’

‘Yes, but you get the product.’

‘That was a straight transaction. I’m not in profit, plus I lost my information. Even the rubber band’s better off than me.’

‘Perhaps you should stay away from transaction technology,’ said May.


From ‘Bryant & May and the Breadcrumb Trail’, one of twelve missing cases in ‘Bryant & May: England’s Finest’

23 comments on “Season’s Greetings From Bryant & May”

  1. Martin Tolley says:

    All the best seasonal wishes to Arthur, John, and you Mr F. And a request? Can we have more stories about Janice please.

  2. Liz Thompson says:

    I know a lot of people like Arthur when it comes to online buying. But I do find it useful myself, no queues, no bus or taxi into town, no crowds, it’s either in stock or you can see it isn’t, choices. Downside, most of those buggers of big companies (insert Amazon or any multinational of your choice) aren’t paying their taxes, Parcel Farce’s reliability is notorious, the courier company drivers have to pee in bottles to keep up with the work, prices and therefore income for writers/creators/makers are driven to rock bottom.
    At 71, a non driver, income only just above pension credit level, I am forced to choose between politics and affordability, capitalism and (in my case) anarchism, idealism and pragmatism, curse it. What happens is I try and buy from local bookshops I know (Plug here, Portal Bookshop, York), swap with friends, give to charity shops and my local community centre anything I no longer want or use, and continue with the activism that’s been getting me into trouble and excitement for the last 50 odd years.
    Any additional tips for resolving the conflict gratefully accepted.

  3. Brian Evans says:

    Liz, The good thing about buying on line is that you don’t have to listen to somebody else’s choice of “music” drowning out what the shop assistant is trying to tell you. Or even worse than music-all the screeching singing. It’s a particular sore point at the moment as we have just come back from the week’s shop and couldn’t hear ourselves think because of sodding Christmas songs. If I hear “Let it snow, let it snow let it snow” one more time I’ll scream the place down.

    However, to those on here who like it-Happy Christmas. To the rest, incl Admin, Ian and I- Bah Humbug. I hate this time of year, and I hate snow.

  4. Ian Luck says:

    I have not been in any shop playing Christmas music this year. If they were, they didn’t get my money. To everyone here, have a tolerable Wednesday, and a happy new year.

  5. Jan says:

    And a very Merry Wednesday to you Ian!
    And a very many more to us all.

    I just got an e mail from an old workmate reminding me how I had given her a lift to Cannon St station cos her bike had a flat tyre on the way into work on News Years eve 1999 into 2000. Got to to the Embankment at about 0640 to see the City of London and Westminster bin men clearing up the extensive millennium eves detritus. Had not seen trash on that scale ever before (Or since) bottles, balloons, food waste everything as far as you could see along the river. It was simply gob smacking. There was even a discarded baby carrying pod that we felt had to check just in case a baby had been left behind!

    The number of champagne bottles is what I remember best. Never forget that. The actual millennium passing midnight moment I spent down in Seven Dials trying to wake a drunk up. A right night it was. Can remember the fireworks flashing above us as I tried to wake said snoring drunk. The number of people walking up Tottenham Court road passing tube stations closed because of sheer numbers of people trying to access the system. Like an exodus. Because everywhere was so crowded I had use the ladies loo in some very posh hotel at about 4 a.m. first proper chance I got. It was like walking onto the film set of some disaster movie the hotel foyer. The place had been semi trashed. Incredible. None of the staff were too uptight about the mess. Actually not many were that upright even, everyone seemed to have participated in full to celebrate the arrival of the New Millenium. Twenty years back now. It almost feels like I’ve read about it in a book. Like someone one told me the story of the night. A different life time almost.

    2020. May it be good to every one.

  6. Brian Evans says:

    It’s me being miserable again Jan, but I was there under sufferance and hated it. The crowds, and we had to walk back to Surry Quays where we lived then.

  7. Brooke says:

    Brian and Ian, I’m with you, brothers.

  8. Brooke says:

    Thank, Mr. Fowler, for letting us have a peek at one of Arthur’s stories, er, cases.

  9. Helen Martin says:

    And it wasn’t even the new millenium yet. I screamed that out to the world and the world answered “meh”.
    Never mind – have a good time on Wednesday however you define it and again to mark the passing of this not so great year. We can hope for better and work for it, too.

  10. Peter Tromans says:

    I thought technology was the application of science for practical purpose. It’s become the application of electronic communication for social purpose and money extraction. I’m happy to avoid the loud, canned muzak, but it’s so sad when lovely old shops close. Boswells’ in Oxford will close next year, just a few years short of three centuries and possibly the last place in the world to still sell Vim scouring powder.

  11. Helen Martin says:

    People who don’t want to go out can buy over the net and have a rapidly disappearing driver leave it on their porch (or whatever). You never have to “interact” with a human again. And if you think that is either progress or a good thing, well, think again.

  12. Jan says:

    I tell you wot Brian I wouldn’t have been there without being paid for it. Not likely!
    Merry Christmas + best for 2020. Jan x

  13. Brian Evans says:

    You know me Jan-it’s being so cheerful that keeps me going.

    Happy one to you too. x

  14. Ken Mann says:

    By a happy coincidence as 1999 rolled into 2000 those of us who were on watch in case important computer systems had issues were the same people pedantic enough to know that the millennium was actually the following year. Except in our expenses claims.

  15. Cornelia Appleyard says:

    Merry Christmas or Wednesday to everyone – or feel free to ignore me if you don’t want to be wished a merry anything.

    I remember talking about the millennium at school ( many years before we got there) and thinking that I would be very old. It never occurred to me that I would ever be as ancient as 20 years older than that.

    Hoping for a good 2020 for all of us.

  16. Peter Tromans says:

    Merry Yuletide to everyone!

  17. Ian Luck says:

    Thank you, Brian. I had to ‘Curtail my Walpoling activities, and sally forth’… To the Post Office, as I had two ‘The postman couldn’t be arsed to deliver this item’ cards. Scurrying back, bus-wards, through the crowds of Hobbledehoys, Mendicants, the terminally bewildered, santa hat salesmen and other top gits, my heart was warmed for a femto-second, by the sight, at ten in the morning, of two drunken old men knocking seven bells out of each other. Nothing says Christmas, to me, more than that.

  18. Liz Thompson says:

    Well Helen, as I’m generally in when the post or delivery comes, I get the chance to have a chat and a laugh with them. Yesterday I had the chance to wish happy christmas to a postman, a parcel force man, and two Amazon delivery drivers. And they all smiled and wished me the same. This morning , it’s been Amazon, with gold tinsel wrapped all round her hair, and the postman. Not completely contact free, even if I do use online ordering. And the local community centre, my two quilt groups, and Extinction Rebellion friends have all wished me a joyful season too.
    Didn’t notice anyone knocking seven bells out of each other, Ian, but you never know your luck. Suspect New Year’s Eve might be more promising, though the folk on our street are all on good terms with each other by and large. All ages too, from under 1 year to over 70. Leeds town centre will probably be more lively!
    Incidentally, I’m loving the Christmas Carol performance on TV. Real victorian life and values!
    God Jul, Merry Christmas, Cool Yule, Happy Hanukah, Merry Midwinter, Solstice Greetings. And for any Discworld fan, Happy Hogswatch.
    And if I’ve omitted any category, joyeux noel, heilige Weinacht, feliz Navidad.
    Anyone else, remember it only lasts one or at most two days, once a year.

  19. SteveB says:

    Merry Xmas grumpy old gits everywhere!

  20. Jo W says:

    To all of Chris’s readers and commenters I send festikk greetings and grumbles on this 25th Dec.!
    If you enjoy this sort of thing, then enjoy. I’ll be reading you when this is all over. 😉

  21. Andrea says:

    I confess I used that picture of Bryant and May and the Christmas lights ad a. Screen saver at work for over a year until IT busted me and took it away.

  22. admin says:

    Busted by IT! Welcome to the Jobs/Orwell universe…

  23. Claire Ross says:

    I have just finished the Longest Hour, I await the next book as there are just too many unanswered questions, although the last page reads, Bryant and May will return. Hopefully so, as I await.

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