07 October 2015

#131 Blackhead

'Until you have dealings with Blackhead, the word "bureaucrat" will have conveyed no meaning to you. He is the super-tchenovnik of the classical Russian novel. Even this building can boast no one else quite like him. As a special treat you can negotiate with Blackhead this afternoon on the subject of the issue of screwdrivers and other tools to Polish civilian personnel temporarily employed at military technical establishments.'

This suggested caricature, Pennistone's taste for presenting individuals in dramatic form. On the contrary, the picture was, if anything, toned down from reality...

'Blackhead is a man apart,' said Pennistone. 'Even his colleagues are aware of that. His minutes have the abstract quality of pure extension.'

Anthony Powell, The Military Philosophers
Contributed by Karen Langley