Day 7: William Joins the Band of Hope

The facts

“William! you’ve been playing that dreadful game again!” said Mrs Brown despairingly.
“I haven’t,” said William. “It was ‘Lions an’ Tamers’ what you said I’d not to play.”
“Well, what have you been playing at?”
“It was ‘Tigers an’ Tamers.’” said William. “It’s a different game altogether. In ‘Lions an’ Tamers’ half of you is lions an’ the other half tamers, an’ the tamers try to tame the lions an’ the lions try not to be tamed.”
“What do you do in ‘Tigers and Tamers’?” said Mrs. Brown suspiciously.
“Well, in ‘Tigers an’ Tamers’ half of you is tigers and the other half—”
“It’s exactly the same thing, William,” said Mrs. Brown with sudden spirit.
“I don’t see how you can call it the same thing,” said William doggedly. “You can’t call a lion a tiger, can you? It jus’ isn’t one. They’re in quite different cages in the Zoo.”

  • Number: 1.7
  • Published: 1922 (1919 in magazine form)
  • Book: Just William
  • Synopsis: William was worried that the latest youth activity in the village – ‘The Band of Hope’ – would be as insufferable as the last. But he manages to take a leadership role…

Verdict

Here beginneth the first of the village’s many societies. In her excellent The William Companion, Mary Cadogan catalogues over 60  groups – all run by “formidable ladies” – ranging from the Society of Ancient Souls to the New Thought Circle, and from the Women’s Guild to the Kindness to Animals League.

A number of these were patronising attempts at Youth Provision imposed on the Outlaws, and the Band of Hope, a creation of formidable lady Mrs de Vere Carter, was one such attempt.

Fortunately, part-way through her soul-destroying first meeting, she leaves the “dear little laddies” alone while she pops out on a short errand (“Now before I go tell me four things that you must be?” “Respectful and reposeful and happy and good, Mrs. de Vere Carter”) and William takes charge.

One has to have a lot of sympathy for William. Mrs de Vere Carter makes the skin crawl – as Richmal Crompton no doubt intended – and, really, what else was he to do when forced into such a ridiculous institution?

What else, except, of course, his brand-new and totally-distinct game… “‘Tamers an’ Crocerdiles”.