Day 68: William and Saint Valentine

The facts

“I don’t think anyone ever had a boy like you ever before, William,” Mrs Brown said with deep emotion.

  • Number: 5.14
  • Published: 1925 (same year in magazine form)
  • Book: Still William
  • Synopsis: William develops a crush on his Sunday School teacher.


This is another story that speaks to me, albeit rather disturbingly, as a (Jewish) Sunday (Saturday) School teacher. (Although un-disturbing is William’s unexpected passion for self-directed Bible study: “’Fraid I din’t learn my verses: I was goin’ to last night an’ I got out my Bible an’ I got readin’ ’bout Jonah in the whale’s belly an’ I thought maybe it’d do me more good than St Stephen’s speech an’ it was ever so much more int’restin’.”)

“Quite a lady-killer, William,” said General Moult from the hearth-rug.
“I’m not,” said William, indignant at the aspersion. “I’ve never killed no ladies.”
“I mean you’re fond of ladies.”
“I think insects is nicer,” said William dispiritedly.

It is also another story in which we see William playing goosberry to Robert and Robert’s inamorata-of-the-moment (cf. William the Intruder, 1.2) and hideous breaches of safeguarding procedures.

His attempts to chat up the desirable Miss Dobson are comical: “Has anyone ever told you that you’re like a bottled cherry? I think we’re pre-existed for each other.” Eventually he gives up and decides to marry Joan.

What stands out most, though, is how the villagers treat the idea of Valentine’s Day as if it’s outdated tosh: “No-one takes any notice of that nowadays,” “It had gone out in my day but I remember your grandmother showing me some that had been sent to her,” and so on. Presumably today’s Valentine mania is fuelled mainly by commercialism?