Saturday, October 05, 2019


Paper Pushers

Charles Dickens (1812-1870), Little Dorrit, Book II, Chapter 8 (on the Circumlocution Office):
[W]ithin the short compass of the last financial half-year, this much-maligned Department (Cheers) had written and received fifteen thousand letters (Loud cheers), had written twenty-four thousand minutes (Louder cheers), and thirty-two thousand five hundred and seventeen memoranda (Vehement cheering). Nay, an ingenious gentleman connected with the Department, and himself a valuable public servant, had done him the favour to make a curious calculation of the amount of stationery consumed in it during the same period. It formed a part of this same short document; and he derived from it the remarkable fact that the sheets of foolscap paper it had devoted to the public service would pave the footways on both sides of Oxford Street from end to end, and leave nearly a quarter of a mile to spare for the park (Immense cheering and laughter); while of tape — red tape — it had used enough to stretch, in graceful festoons, from Hyde Park Corner to the General Post Office.

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