The facts

Quite suddenly William thought of a way. It was so simple that he couldn’t imagine why he hadn’t thought of it before. All he had to do was to move the unexploded bomb from the front of loan’s house to the front of Hubert Lane’s house. Then Joan would be able to have her party, and Hubert Lane would not be able to have his. Even the details of the plan did not seem difficult. William realised, of course, that the thing might go offas he was removing it to Hubert Lane’s house, but he considered himself quite capable of dealing with that. A  saucepan on his head, a tin tray in readiness to use as a shield… and then, he thought, the bomb might do its worst.

  • Number: 24.2
  • Published: 1942 (1941 in magazine form)
  • Book: William Carries On
  • Synopsis: An unexploded bomb threatens Joan’s birthday party.


William’s favourite gal Joan is celebrating her birthday, and her party is to be a high point in amidst the trials and deprivations of the war. Clashing with and likely to surpass Hubert Lane’s party, at first it suffers from only one imperfection: the lack of a kinematograph (the local projectionist having become an ARP warden and having acquired an excessive view of their own dignity à la Captain Mainwaring).

But then a greater disadvantage materialises: an unexploded bomb outside Joan’s house which necessitates the evacuation of the entire street.

William bravely (but stupidly) manages to establish that the unexploded bomb isn’t quite as dangerous as had been thought… and then fate moves in his and Joan’s direction.

This is such a fun story partly because of how blithely William is prepared to pick up an unexploded bomb. He’s not being brave, just mindlessly optimistic, and it’s very sweet.

hyThe facts

William’s pocket money was mortgaged for a month to pay for the crockery he had broken while training to be a juggler. “Well, they’ve all gotter learn , haven’t they?” he had protested, when sentence was passed on him. “Gosh! D’you think jugglers can throw up plates like that without practisin’? D’you think they’re born throwin’ up plates like that? They’ve gotter break a few plates an’ things practisin’. Stands to reason… Well , how’m I goin’ to earn my livin’ bein’ a juggler when I’m grown up if you won’t let me practise? Anyone ’d think you didn’t want me to earn my livin’ when I’m grown up. It’s gain’ to be jolly expensive to you keepin’ me all my life , just ’cause you won’t ever let me start practisin’ to earn my livin’ jugglin’…”

  • Number: 22.7
  • Published: 1940 (same year in magazine form)
  • Book: William and the Evacuees
  • Synopsis: William wants a tin hat; and Robert has a competitor.


William, envious of the tin hats that every other boy in the village seems to own, tries to gain permission to borrow Robert’s.

But Robert has other problems on his hands, because his relationship with the delightful Philippa Pomeroy (William and the Begging Letter, 21.8) is under pressure from an airy newcomer called Claude – who would, as a child, undoubtly have fallen into the ‘insufferably virtuous’ category.

For while Robert plays at soldiers with only slightly more realism than has William – his duties in the ARP seem to revolve around “battles won on
the darts board and tense moments at draughts” – Claude abounds with stories of bravery and pluck, and says he intends to ‘join up’ to the Royal Air Force as soon as possible. Philippa is enchanted (or should I say ‘fooled’).

William sat down hopefully. It was about tea time, and you generally got a jolly decent tea in other people’s houses, much better than you ever got at home. He looked from one to the other cheerfully, ready to play his social part and take his share in any conversation that might be going.
“I’m sure your friends are missing you,” said Claude.
“Yes, I ‘spect they are,” agreed William pleasantly.
There was a short silence, then Claude said: “I can’t tell you how much we enjoy having you here, but I don’t think we ought to deprive your friends any longer of the pleasure of your company.”
There was nothing subtle about William. He took
things at their face value. “Oh, no, that’s all right,” he said, flattered by the compliment. “I c’n stay here as long as you want me. I c’n stay,” hopefully, “anyway till after tea.”

This leads William to a brilliant fundraising idea, hopefully brilliant enough to net him a new tin hat: he offers to concoct some stories of bravery and pluck for Robert to tell Philippa. Robert, fairly sensibly, declines.

But then William witnesses Claude walking home in the black-out and acting in an unplucky and disbrave way; and, without for a moment losing his faith in Claude’s genuineness, accidentally and unintentionally blackmails him.

The facts

An exhaustive search of Aunt Arabelle’s desk revealed no stories of any sort, only a typewritten sheet headed: “Answers to Correspondents.” The first was: “I am sorry, dear, that he has not spoken yet. But just go on being your own sweet self, and I am sure he will soon.”
“What’s that mean?” said Ginger with a mystified frown.
“It’s someone who’s got a dumb child an’ is tryin’ to cure it,” explained William.

  • Number: 14.10
  • Published: 1932 (1931 in magazine form) – originally titled William’s Busy Fortnight
  • Book: William the Pirate
  • Synopsis: The Outlaws get Ginger’s aunt the interview of a lifetime.


“We’ve got somethin’ to show you,” said Ginger, “an’ it’s something you’ll be jolly interested in.”
“Is it about ME?” said Anthony Martin.

I’ve labelled this one insufferably virtuous children but Anthony Martin is not wholly virtuous. In fact, he is insufferably unvirtuous. But nevertheless, as a visiting celebrity (his mother made him famous with her insufferable books and poems about him), he is a prime target for Aunt Arabelle to interview.

Aunt Arabelle, a journalist from Women’s Sphere (“I help women with their little troubles of the heart”) is looking after Ginger while his parents are away, and he will receive ten shillings at the end of the fortnight if he’s been good. Of course, deliberately flooding the conservatory (“We can turn on the tap enough to have the floor jus’ under water”) does not count as ‘good’, so the Outlaws desperately need to do Aunt Arabelle a favour in order to secure their reward.

“What is the paper?”
“It’s called ‘The Woman Spear’,” said Ginger.
“Never heard of it. What sort of thing does it go in for?”
“Dumbness and stomach-ache and heart disease and things like that,” said William.
“I’ve never given an interview to a medical paper before,” said Anthony Martin. “It hasn’t even any circulation to speak of.”
“It does speak of circulation,” said William, pugnaciously, “it’s included in heart disease.”

Anthony Martin, though, does not seem inclined to co-operate, and is instead too busy showing off his latest records, press clippings, toys and so on. He even shows off a gramaphone record recorder into which he is to give a recital the following day.

Then he throws a horrendous tantrum at teatime, really ripping into his poor nurse (“I’ll kick your nasty old shins. I’ll stamp on your nasty old toes. You leave me alone, I tell you, you old cat, you! Do you think I’m going to do what you tell me now I’m famous all over the world?”).

William pops out of the room during this episode. And shortly after that, Anthony Martin agrees to give an interview to Aunt Arabelle – and even have his photo taken sitting on her knee.

Everybody’s happy (except for the nurse, perhaps).