William and the Moon Rocket

 The facts

“I’ve thought of somethin’ else I’m goin’ to be when I’m grown up,” said William.
“Gosh! Not another!” said Ginger in reluctant admiration.
William decided on a new career every few days. Already, in the course of the last week, he had decided to be diver, golddigger, big-game hunter, tree-lopper, conjurer, atom-bomb maker and snake charmer.

  • Number: 29.8
  • Published: 1954 (same year in magazine form) – originally titled William’s Mistake
  • Book: William and the Moon Rocket
  • Synopsis: The boys need to raise two shillings by doing odd jobs.


William and Ginger are anxious to raise a shilling each in order to see the Wonder Cossacks, a horse-riding circus troupe.

Outraged that Mr Brown is not willing to fund this investment in their futures (the boys’ careers as cossacks obviously depend on soaking up this early experience), William expostulates, “I remember he paid fifteen shillin’s once for garden spray. Gosh! We could’ve seen the Wonder Cossacks…” – he paused and wrinkled his brow in mental effort – “seven an’ a half times for that.”

“Gosh, Miss Milton, don’t write to our fathers, please,” said William. “We’re sorry about your frame an’ it was my fault, an’ I don’t know what made that stone go a diff’rent way to what I threw it. I bet it mus’ be somethin’ to do with the atom bomb. Somethin’ got out into the air out of the atom bomb and… and sort of mesmerised it. Listen, Miss Milton. I’ll mend your garden frame. Honest, I will. I bet I can find a bit of glass an’ I know where there’s a tube of glue.”

But his relentless optimism comes in, and he resolves to earn enough money not only to see the Wonder Cossacks but also to buy lots of ice-cream and a jet bomber.

His ‘best’ idea is to do a favour for his father, namely painting a cupboard brown. They don’t have any brown paint but decide to try a blend of cough mixture, hair tonic and walnut ketchup.

Mr Brown is irate, at least until he makes a cock-up of his own and begins to understand that, well, these little mistakes will happen…

 The facts

“Do stop messing about with your food, William,” said Mrs Brown.
“I’m not messin’,” said William. “This spoon’s a jet bomber swoopin’ down on the fortress.” He emitted a nerve-shattering sound, then looked earnestly at his mother. “Did that sound like a jet-bomber?”
“I don’t know,” said Mrs Brown faintly, “but don’t do it again.”

  • Number: 29.7
  • Published: 1954 (1953 in magazine form)
  • Book: William and the Moon Rocket
  • Synopsis: William is outraged at discrimination in favour of the over-60s.


Somewhat of a reprise of Pensions for Boys, 18.9, William is irked by all the preferential treatment that over-60s receive: trips, lunches and more:

“People naturally want to do all they can to cheer up the old.”
“Well, why don’t they want to do all they can to cheer up the young?’

“If everyone was like you,” said William severely, “no-one’d ever have discovered anythin’ – not America nor… nor fountain pens nor anythin’.”

And so the village’s Over-Ten club is born, as a counterpart to the Over-Sixties club:

Nottis Ergunt
overtenn klub
Their will, be a meating tomorrough aftemun of peeple over, tenn to gett up an overtenn, klub ennyone, overtenn kan kum not, annimuls William Brown prezidant will maik a speach peeple, that interrupp him will, be chuckd out
cined William Brown

The children of the locale are not entirely united in support:

“Why not wait till we get to be over sixty?” suggested a placid-looking child who was licking a toffee apple. “Everyone gets to be over sixty if they wait long enough. It only wants a bit of patience.”
“I’d like to see William Brown sixty,” jeered Arabella. “Gosh! He’ll be worth lookin’ at. He’s a sight to start with.”

William has some difficulty persuading the adults as well; in particular, the commissaire at the cinema refuses to let them in for free. They do discover a banquet which is available for them to eat (not entirely legitimately), but inevitably:

Overtenn klub
The overtenn klub will be klozed til furthur nottis.
cined William Brown.

 The facts

“That’s what we’ll do, then,” said William in the tone of one who has solved a problem to the entire satisfaction of everyone concerned. “We’ll take treasures off foreigners an’ bring ’em back for the country.”
“How’ll we give ’em to the country when we’ve got ’em?” said Ginger. “It’s a long way to Parliament an’ we don’t even know its address.”
Frowning, William considered this objection, then the frown cleared from his face.
“I bet the Mayor of Hadley’d do,” he said. “He can take ’em up to London with him nex’ time he goes. He’s called Kirkham an’ I know where he lives. He’s jolly nice. He once bought me an ice-cream.”

  • Number: 29.6
  • Published: 1954 (1953 in magazine form) – originally titled William Goes Patriotic
  • Book: William and the Moon Rocket
  • Synopsis: The Outlaws are seized with Coronation fervour.


In the aftermath of the Coronation, the Outlaws are determined to do their bit to help the country, in the spirit of the Elizabethans of days of old.

Strangely, William is under the impression that if he performs this task well enough he’ll become ruler of “Elizabetha”, but in any event the Outlaws all set to it with a will. And come across unexpected success…

The story itself is fairly uninteresting, though.