Please excuse the informal use of email for this enquiry.
Can you please confirm who would be responsible for reducing the cost of your stationery purchases, within your office please ?
Also could you advise me of their mailing address.
Unit 6 Ashton Gate
Essex RM3 8UF
We felt he required a response:
Dear Mr Hillyard:
It’s a long story, I am afraid, but one filled with hope for us all.
We used to have someone who was specifically responsible for this task. His name was Cornelius Dagblatt. We sent him on a fact finding mission across the seas to source raw materials so we could make our own supplies of paper, staples and writing materials. Wood, steel, porcupine quills and that sort of thing. He set sail from Gravesend on 24 October 1998; a day we remember well. Our staff went to see him off, tears of parting joy rolling down our cheeks and grubby handkerchiefs waving in the sullen grizzle of that autumnal day.
Little did we know what trials and tribulations he would face as he chirpily walked up the gangway to the neat three masted schooner which would carry him away, together with his case of Land Registry forms and pencils, sharpened to clinically perfect points, to the tropics and beyond.
Three years later, the postman delivered a tatty envelope with postage stamps from the Estados Unidos do Brasil. In it was a letter, folded twice, and inscribed in familiar copperplate on the most beautiful paper we had ever seen. As light as the finest India paper, but retaining a sheen redolent of the soft first dew of the day; blocked with gold leaf; and cut to A5 size with a precision beyond that of machine, or man, or beast.
The letter told of Mr Dagblatt’s landing in the delta of the Orinoco, in the Republic of Venezuela and his hiring of a native canoe wherewith he paddled up that River for hundreds of miles. It told of the sad loss of one of his thumbs to piranha fish and how he struggled with his load of forms across the highlands of Tapirapeco, plagued with poisonous spiders and vengeful armadillos, to the upper reaches of the Rio Negro, and how, in a forest clearing, where the light from the sky penetrated down between the high trees like a shaft of golden rain, he came across the Lost Papermakers of St Ationery, whose remote ancestors had originally settled with the Jesuit Missionaries of Nuestra Señora de Loreto and who, after the forcible dissolution of those Missions, had come northwards to find peace and simple satisfaction in the making of paper and other items of stationery.
They had had no contact with the rest of the world since 1780, when they came across a blind Prussian engineer wandering in the jungle and adopted him into their ragged but determined group. He taught them the arts of office administration and independently invented the typewriter, the dictation machine, and carbon paper. His daughter, Magdalena Schwarzwurzel, carried on the family tradition of innovatory excellence and by 1832, when she died, the small settlement in Northern Brazil, then of course an Empire under the rumbustious Emperor Pedro II, of which they knew nothing, had an efficient network of computers with LCD monitors and attached colour printers. Paper production was standardised and the metric system of paper sizes adopted quite by chance in the 1920s.
The stapler came quite late to them; with monkey’s teeth being used to keep papers together right up to the 1960s, but a source of iron ore was available for the manufacture of staples of an extraordinary purity.
Having found the settlement, Mr Dagblatt stayed for a year and a month, coming to a natural understanding with the processes of paper making and pencil sharpening which he had never encountered in his years as a stationery clerk. His experiences had transformed him and he felt unable to return to what he described as the “humdrum and sordid life of shame and loathing of people trying to sell you things” which he had been part of in Streatham. His letter, posted from a post-office in the state of Amazonas, ends with a paragraph which we have now had ten years to come to terms with: “Although I hold my position of stationery clerk at your firm in the highest esteem, I now feel that my life belongs with the simple people of St Ationery. I ask that you use the arrears of salary I am owed by you to benefit those who are injured by paper cuts or accidentally disfigured by office guillotines, but not those whose hands are pierced by staples as they should know better. I bid you adieu.”
Since then we have heard nothing. His mission had succeeded beyond our wildest dreams, but sadly we could not reap the benefit thereof.
We have no plans to replace him as we hold his memory so dear. His chair awaits him should he change his mind, and it is cleaned using hygienic wipes every five weeks, as we are sure he would have wanted.
As such I regret that there is no person who is responsible for reducing the cost of our stationery purchases within our office.
Laurence N. Mann
Messrs A. L. Hughes & Co.
340 Streatham High Road
London SW16 6HH