Monday, 19 October 2020

Jimmy Story Review: 1.2 Miss Pettigrew's Parrot

After a week of terrible incidents, Roger is banned from the family outing to the circus by this father. The straw to break the camels back was Roger kicking his ball through Miss Pettigrew's open window and knocking over he parrot's cage; leading to the escape of the parrot.

Jimmy is terribly worried by this and comes up with a plan to exchange the lost parrot with his tortoise (painted parrot colours) and one of Bobby's kittens (which will miaow like the parrot could).

By the time they have delivered the gifts to Miss Pettigrew's empty house, Mr Manning has called his wife with a change of heart: Roger can come along after all. However, first words must be had with Roger.

Jimmy seems concerned now, about the gifts he has left - a tortoise dripping with paint and a cat hidden in Miss Pettigrew's work basket. This increases when he overhears two women conversing about Miss Pettigrew's work basket being destroyed by a cat and her carpet stained by paint. It appears that she may be on the war path. While this worries Jimmy, they are at the circus, the whole family, and tomorrow is such a long way away!

Mrs Manning
Mr Manning

Monday, 12 October 2020

21.3 William's Day Off

Quote from the story
""You can't have any fun with a cow. I've tried"
- William

Ginger begins this adventure by telling William that "some sort of soci'ty" is paying from children from the slums are going to stay with Mrs. Camp at Eastbrook Farm. They've never seen cows or woods, or anything like that. Miss Milton's sister will have the slum children to tea on the first day, William things that the children will be better off in the slums. William, of course, votes that they take the children around the woods and cows.
The Outlaws are distracted by the news that Hubert Lane is selling piebald mice, given to him by an aunt but unwanted, for a shilling each. The outlaws actually have a shilling and head towards Hubert's house, the feud set aside for the present. However, their mission is rudely brought to an end when Hubert refuses to sell the one at any price. Mrs Lane suddenly appears before William can challenge Hubert's decision. Heading back down the road, the Outlaws hear Hubert shouting that he'd rather give the mice away than sell them one.
Conversation turns to making Hubert sell them a piebald mouse. Various schemes are shot down because it is now of all importance that Hubert not only sells the Outlaws a mouse, but is also seen to be selling them one.

The next day, the Outlaws go to Eastbrook Farm and take Bert and Syd out to visit various places. Of course, relations are cemented with the typical rough and tumble game that shows all parties that everyone is a good sport. The old barn then being the next location on the countryside tour, starting a fire and cooking a meal for their guests - of course including liquorice water.

Bert and Syd tell the Outlaws of the street gang they're members of back home. Their stories impress even the Outlaws. William then suggests a game of smugglers at the caves at Marleigh, but Bert and Syd remember they are due at Miss Milton's house. As William is known to do, he suggests that he takes the place of Bert and ( as Miss Milton's sister has seen all the other Outlaws) that Syd has a cold. Ginger, Henry, and Douglas are, typically, less than confident in William's abilities, but he ignores all objections and suggests that they all meet at the old barn so William can change clothes with Bert.

After making some changes and disguising himself, William manages to get past Miss Milton (the sister of regular Miss Milton) without a fuss - even managing to make her believe that slum kids don't know what grass is! Miss Milton treats William to a very poor tea of a single serving. Miss Milton sends for a local, well-behaved boy, to come and keep 'Bert' company - a certain Hubert Lane. William tries to make his escape, but cannot. However, William's disguise is so effective that Hubert doesn't actually recognise him as William! Although he does have his suspicions. Hubert tries to trick 'Bert' into breaking the tool shed window at William's house. However, William, when out of sight, slips into his house and changes into his usual attire and questions Hubert, who says the boy ran away from him - along with a multitude of other fabrications.

Hubert is now anxious that Bert has disappeaed. William suggests that he may have fallen into the raintub and drowned, scaring Hubert in the process, before finding that Bert isn't there! William then turns the situation to his advantage and requests one of those piebald mice from the beginning of the story. Hubert relents.

With his new piebald mouse in hand, Herbert helps William disguise himself as Bert. William, as Bert, and Hubert return to Miss Milton's house and hear her inviting someone and their little boy to meet the slum child - who she says looks better already after being out in the open air. This someone turns out to by Mrs. Brown.

While Hurbert and Miss Milton persist that the boy is Bert, Mrs Brown knows her son - and is validated when the real Bert shows up from his advertures in Marleigh (sent to give back the suit he was wearing).

While everyone talks over each other in an attempt to understand the situation, William knows just one thing; he has won this one - he has a piebald mouse.

Characters Events
Ginger Visit from slum children.
Henry Places
Douglas Hubert Lane's House
Hubert Lane Miss Milton's House
Mrs Lane Old Barn
Bert William's House
Miss Milton   (sister)
Mrs Brown

Monday, 5 October 2020

MIST Story Review: Marlowes by Richmal Crompton

Marlowes is a short story published in MIST and other stories, recently republished as MIST and Other Ghost Stories.


This is a sweet story about the Armour family and their deep love for their house, Marlowes. We are beig told the story second hand, our narrator having been told the story by an American lady, staying at a hotel while repairs are made to Marlowes.
The American lady, and her husband Bill, had moved to England upon Bills' retirement and almost immediately found a Tudor manor house in Sussex. They also discovered that the house did not like them and seemed to view them as interlopers.
The local gossip, a Mrs Jones, is eventually coerced into revealing the history of the previous owners, the Armours. Eventually the last male, Gilbert, dies at a young age after being brought up by his aunt, Mrs Flowers (his parents had died when he was young). They had both cherished the house very much and put all of their time into it. However, after Gilbert died, Mrs Flowers could not afford the upkeep of the house and some distant relatives ordered doctors notes to have her set up in the local mental home.
After standing empty for an age, the house is then sold to our American couple, who are aware that Mrs Flowers has escaped once in the past and ended up at the front door of Marlowes. If is, therefore, no surprise, when she does so again and sees Bill as her Gilbert. Bill plays along, not willing to send her back to that place, even when questioned by a police officer.
The day is filled with Mrs Flowers recollections of Gilbert and of her own childhood; Bill filling the place of Gilbert, or her brother, depending on the story. As the day is coming to a close, she wants to sit in her favourite spot in the garden. Bill brings her blankets and cushions, before the couple leave her to rest a while. Upon their return, Bill notices that she is dead.
These days the gossip is aimed at them, but they don't mind, in that short time they had come to love Mrs Flowers - and the house now welcomed and loved them.



This was such a sweet story. Everyone should have the choice of when and where to die, when possible. Mrs Flowers, in such a confused state since she has been forced to leave Marlowes, now recollects the childhood of the nephew she brought up on her own after his parents had died and her own childhood - which were clear as crystal. The feeling of welcome that the house gives Bill and his wife after their kindness towards Mrs Flowers must have been a massive relief. To be able to live in your own home, within that the fours walls that are supposed to bring you safety, without a sensation that they hate you instead made such a difference to the couple that they rarely leave the house.


To read the story, and the rest of the book, buy it from Amazon by clicking the cover below:

Monday, 28 September 2020

William Story Review: William's Unlucky Day, published in Undaunted.

William's Unlucky Day was written by Richmal Crompton for Bromley Civil Defence services and originally published in their newsletter: Arpeggio. At the time, Crompton was a trainee in the Communication Service and attached to No 4 Sub Report Centre.

She managed to write the story with only a few days notice before the newsletter was typed and stencilled.

Appearing in Undaunted makes for this story's first publication since that edition of the newsletter and we must thank Graham Reeves for including the story in his book.

The story sees William visiting his 'aunt' in Bromley for Christmas (The first and only time Richmal is 'in' a William story?). He has done all sorts of things that he thought might make her happy, but as William states: "people get made at me whatever I do" - and this is certainly the theme running through this story!

William then attempts to appear as a hero to his aunt, with rather predictable results. He comes across two women sharing that day's code word and then following one of the women comes across a room containing several people on the telephone. To him, they are spewing utter rubbish. They're telling the person on the receiving end of 'considerable panic', an 'unexploded bomb in Southlands Road', and a wrecked aeroplane in the Hight Street. As William has walked these streets that day, he knows these reports to be untrue. However, in true William fashion, he aims to out this nest of spies.

He see's the man in charge, who he names 'X' and follows him home. Calling the police and telling them to arrive in 30 minutes, William gains entrance into the home of X and is found by the policeman he called, searching through X's possessions (Mr. Godstone as we come to know him).

William, of course, attempts to explain his actions, but ends up at the police station to be collected by his aunt. Mr Godstone has been let off by providing what William considers to be a 'flimsy and trivial excuse', that of practice messages.

He genuinely expects that when the police visit his aunt's home shortly after, that they have come to deliver their apologies. However, William's day has gotten even worse: Light is showing through his bedroom curtains.

Poor William! I should imagine that William and his aunt, both, will be glad when he returns home.

Monday, 21 September 2020

Jimmy Story Review: 1.1 Jimmy Turns the Tables

In this, the very first, story of Jimmy; we begin with a description of Jimmy, his brother, and The Three Musketeers.

The Three Musketeers have decided to declare war on The Mouldies, Archie Mould's gang, and decide on using the kitchen of the blitzed house as their headquarters.

Jimmy (Jim this time as he's not really wanted for this war), is posted as guard of a signpost, but is quickly captured by Archie when the others leave.

Jimmy hates the idea of being captured, especially as he's Roger's brother, who is the leader of the Three Musketeers. He feels that the shame would stay with him his entire life. He gets Archie talking, who reveals that he's going to keep Archie in the coal shed at his home.
Archie tells his how thrilled he is at this idea as he's never allowed to play in his own coal shed. Jimmy says that he's glad it's not the kitchen of the blitzed house - as that has rats. This gives Archie the idea of doing just that.

The story closes with Archie leading Jimmy into the aforementioned kitchen, himself now the prisoner!

Archie Mould

Monday, 14 September 2020

William (1962-1963)

'Over to William' (1956) was followed up with the two season 'William', this time on the BBC.

Season 1 had the well-known Dennis Waterman playing Just William. All episodes, apart from episode 2 'William and the Leopard Hunter' are lost.

Season 1 episodes:
William and the Wonderful Present
William and the Leopard Hunter
William Finds a Job
William the Counterspy
William and the Parrots
William and the American Tie
The 30 minute episodes were broadcast on Saturdays between 26/05/1963 and 30/06/1962.

Season 2 saw Waterman replaced by Denis Gilmore, but retained the rest of the main cast, including Gillian Gostling as Violet. The episode titles are:
William the Peacemaker
William and the Little Girl
William and the Three Bears
William and the Sleeping Major
William and the Real Laurence
William Goes Shopping
The 30 minute episodes were broadcast on Saturdays between 30/03/1963 and 04/05/1963

It was adapted by C.E. Webber and produced by Leonard Chase.


Monday, 7 September 2020

MIST Story Review: Rosalind by Richmal Crompton

Rosalind is a short story published in MIST and other stories, recently republished as MIST and Other Ghost Stories.



Moira Houghton is looking out of her bedroom window, while dressing for dinner. Watching her children play, with Billy, the children's father and her husband, and the children's governess, Lindy.
She is considering how much she loves her family, including the governess, when her father-in-law knocks at the door. This break Moira's time of privacy, but she doesn't mind so much, she loves Billy's father too. He gives her a Spanish comb, given to his brother a long time ago. Placing it in her hair, he says how delightful she looks and tells her to keep it.

Still wearing the Spanish comb, Moira looks out of the window again. The nurse has gone to collect the childen to bring them indoors. However she sees that Billy and Lindy do not follow, first they walk down the flower border, then they enter the walled kitchen garden.

Moira feels a suspicion now, towards Billy. This turns into a savage "primitive uncontrollable passion".
The nurse comes to tell Moira that the children are in bed, telling her how feverish she looks. She briefly goes to see them, upon her return Billy is in the bedroom and readying himself for dinner.
Billy is all compliments for Moira and how she looks with the Spanish comb in her hair. Moira immediately thinks that he is playing a game and trying to get around her suspicions with flattery. She refuses to go for a picnic the next day, but says Billy can go with Lindy. 

At dinner, Moira eats nothing and this is commented upon. She feels she notices glances between Billy and Lindy when they feels her attention is elsewhere. Her father-in-law suggests that a black lace scarf would be ideal to go with the comb. Moira cannot keep the jealousy at bay: thoughts of murder have entered her heart. She'll make them both suffer for what they've done.

Mr Houghton, the father-in-law, has now remembered the story of how his brother was given the comb. It was once owned by a beautiful, but insanely jealous, woman. Her husband was devoted to her, however the woman had killed at least one girl. Eventually, she killed her husband and her children, before committing suicide. The sister of the woman was afraid of the comb and passed it on. The comb is heard to fall from Moira's head as she faints in her chair. 

Back in her room, being warmed by the fire, Billy fusses over her. She feels as if she had never been suspicious of Billy at all. That she has awakened from a nightmare. He tells her that Lindy, in her girl-like way, was collecting flowers for the breakfast table. Love-in-a-mist, Moira's favourite. Lindy was also talking about getting her a black lace scarf for her birthday. He wonders if they should have employed an older governess, called Lindy, "such a kid". 

Moira says that she loves Lindy and enquires the time of the picnic tomorrow. At this point a housekeeper brings the Spanish comb. Moira asks Billy if he loves her, he replies in the affirmative. She throws the comb in the fire and blazes up in a leaping tongue of flame.


The last two pages of this story brought tears to my eyes. Heath under the pressure of needing to conform, to meet societies expectations regarding a wife, pushes Rosalind to the side. He could have handled it in a much better way, but is too childlike to do so. He then brings Helen into the equation. Our narrator tells this story, seemingly, without any emotion. However, the desciption of the events (told by him as accurately as he can recall them), is emotive enough. Rosalind and the baby already dead and beckoning him, Heath decides to join them. Then Helen is so grieve stricken that she has a break down. 

All are innocent, but Heath less so. The narrator plays a waiting game, which had been his plan all along with regards to Helen and gets his reward for doing so.

A sad tale well told. Thank you Richmal Crompton for your awesome ability to write in such a varied and skilled manner - this is a story that should be well known, but sadly isn't.

To read the story, and the rest of the book, buy it from Amazon by clicking the cover below: