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Mr Mavolio Bent is the Chief Cashier at the Royal Bank of Ankh-Morpork. He is a fussy little man in impeccable black jacket and pinstripe trousers. He has a peculiar way of walking that involves lifting his feet high and gently setting them down again, like a slow-motion goosestep. He also has no sense of humour – this is apparently due to Nichtlachen-Keinwortz Syndrome, but as if in compensation, is very good with numbers. He has the air about him of one who stands very quietly in a cupboard when not in use.

He is a ferociously good mathematician. He can run his eyes down an enormous list of numbers and add them together instantly. As such he has risen to a position of enormous power in the Bank. He sits on a mechanical platform in the centre of the office which he calls his "panopticon" so can treadle around to watch any of the junior clerks under his power as they beaver away. He is held in awe by all who work for him, such as Robert Spittle. And he inspires absolute devotion from his Senior Clerk, Miss Drapes.

Mavolio Bent was born Charlie Benito. His father was a renowned clown, his mother loved clowns – or at least loved a clown for a night. His mother brought him up to be normal, but he still ended up as a clown. He failed at the job (or rather, was so good at it in that he actually made others laugh which had a devastating effect on him as he felt they were laughing at him). He flees the circus and while on the run he bumped into a group of travelling accountants. There he discovered his talent for numbers, started his career as a banker, until the events of Making Money led to the discovery of his hidden talents. His catch phrase, or at least the password to his magic locks and what he utters before attempted pie-ing of public authority, is "Here we are again!". This, of course, is an homage to the Victorian-era Payne Brothers. He is coerced by the Lavish family who own the bank, to hide their theft of the bank's gold by falsifying the accounts. Eventually, he realizes that the Lavish family have not been his friends and that Moist von Lipwig, with his new procedures and banking philosophy is really looking out for his better interests. He confronts Cosmos Lavish with the aid of his clowning skills (the old swinging ladder trick and custard pies to the face) and helps to bring down the Lavish family, saving Moist von Lipwig's career and neck in the process. He returns to the bank, marries Miss Drapes and presumably lives happily ever after with his figures.


"Mavolio Bent" works on three levels:

i) in the Shakespeare play "Twelfth Night", Malvolio is a puritanical, fun-spoiling, pompous, humourless steward. He is a snob, and jealous of his status as head of the household. He has an inflated opinion of himself and considers himself to be perfect. At the same time he has no idea of how to deal with people.

ii) A long-running children's animation on British TV is "Mr Benn."[1]. The star is a dapper well-dressed bank cashier, impeccably dressed in black jacket and pinstripe trousers, who has a most peculiar stiff-legged way of walking. Again he is a grey, mousy, individual on the surface, but the moment he walks into the mysterious shop that appears from nowhere, and dons a costume, he walks out onto an Adventure...

iii) In criminal parlance, a "Bent" clerk is one who has been corrupted, and will tell secret information or assist in stealing from the bank.

Bent's childhood story of running away from the life of a clown with the travelling accountants is a reversal of the Roundworld cliché of someone stuck in a monotonous job running away to join the circus.

Of course the greyest, blandest, dullest British Prime Minister of recent years, John Major, was born to a circus family and did leave because he found Conservative politics (both small and large 'c') more to his taste. The idea of his leading a double life as a clown was explored by The Comic Strip, but this is probably a coincidence. Even though prior to entering politics, he trained as a bank manager, and after entering politics and attaining the rank of Chancellor of the Exchequer, he treated the British economy as if it were a delinquent (overdrawn) account on the grand scale. As Prime Minister, his refusal to abandon a flawed economic standard (the ERM, to which the pound, and his own financial reputation, was tied) precipitated a major economic collapse and recession.