a master of arts by research project by david atkinson, rmit university

Let me introduce you to Clarence.

He is not married and still lives with his mother. His dad died during the war. He is balding and bespectacled, and always wears a woolen vest that his mother knitted for him. He collects stamps, matchboxes, coins and butterflies, tickets of all kinds and has scrapbooks filled with all sorts of things. He particularly likes books about ships, trains and war planes.

Clarence has worked in the Public Service ever since turning eighteen. His mother found him the job. Although he has never risen high in the ranks during his twenty odd years there, he his happy enough with his lot for the department he works in is very large and generates lots and lots of lovely paperwork.

Clarence has always been fascinated with detail, facts and figures. He is one of the few people in The Department who can fathom its complicated filing system and knows exactly where to find documents and papers. He prides himself on his ability to have facts and figures at his fingertips, an ability his superiors are acutely aware of and exploit as they enjoy the pleasures of long leisurely lunches thanks to Clarence's zest for his work.

People make use of Clarence, though few ever stop long to chat as he is considered to be a rather boring sort of chap. It pays for Clarence's workmates to go through the social motions however. If he doesn't like the way people treat him, he can be a fickle sod and the thought of having to do their own research on that paper the boss asked them to prepare is simply too daunting to contemplate.

While his office colleagues go out for their lunches of pesto futtucine and mineral water on High Street, Clarence eats white bread and fishpaste sandwiches alone in The Department's staff room, washed down with tepid sugared milky tea.


"A character description!!?? Hmm... that's a strange starting point for a research project isn't it Dave?"

Think so Clarence? Well, read on...


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