christmas

The facts

It was Christmas. William had thoughtfully presented each of his friends and relations with a list of his immediate requirements:
1. a Bicycle.
2. a grammerfone.
3. a pony.
4. a snake.
5. a monkey.
6. a Bugal.
7. a trumpit
8. a red Injun uniform
9. a sw lot of sweets
10. a lot of books.
He had a vague and not unfounded misgiving that his family would begin at the bottom of the list instead of the top.

  • Number: 2.14
  • Published: 1922 (1919 in magazine form) – not to be confused with the 1934 story, 16.10, of the same name
  • Book: More William
  • Synopsis: William and Joan plan a Christmas party for the local poor.

Verdict

So anxious to avoid being given only books for Christmas is William that he finds and rifles through the stack his father intends for him, then casually announces at breakfast the next morning, “I only hope no one gives me The Great Chief, or The Pirate Ship, or The Land of Danger for Christmas. Jus’ ’cause I’ve read them, that’s all.”

Back to the bookshop Mr Brown went!

But William has other things on his mind. He comes across a poor girl in the neighbourhood whose father is about to be released from prison. He and Joan resolve to escape from their own Christmas party, and go to bring some joy to the girl and her family.

“Now let’s see whom we’ll have for your party, William,” she said, taking out pencil and paper. “You say whom you’d like and I’ll make a list.”
“Ginger an’ Douglas an’ Henry and Joan,” said William promptly.
“Yes? Who else?”
“I’d like the milkman.”

It turns out (not entirely surprisingly) that William is more enlightened than his family. In this story, he does a genuine good turn – yes, it wasn’t his own food that he gave away, but he and Joan brought so much light to the poor family’s lives – and all he gets from Mrs Brown is, “And he was just a common man straight from prison. It’s dreadful. I do hope you haven’t picked up any awful language.”

Christmas cheer from Richmal Crompton.

The facts

“I borrowed it. I thought you’d like to see a model railway signal. I thought you’d be interested. Anyone would think anyone would be interested in seein’ a railway signal made out of a mincin’ machine.”

  • Number: 2.1
  • Published: 1922 (1920 in magazine form)
  • Book: More William
  • Synopsis: William ruins Christmas, in a multitude of different ways.

Verdict

This is the first of William’s many Christmasses. We are also introduced to his four-year-old cousin Jimmy who seems somewhat like a William-in-training, at least aspiring to William’s (in Richmal Crompton’s words) “infinite capacity of producing chaos in his immediate surroundings, with the best intentions in the world”.

“It’s a good thing I don’t live here,” wept Aunt Evangeline. “One day a year is enough!”

Following a flood, various ‘gifts’ of live insects, a magic trick that goes wrong and an unsuccessful attempt by William to ‘mend’ the hall clock which results in the entire family missing church,

This poses an interesting role-reversal: often the Browns are cursed by annoying houseguests, but this time, they (collectively) are the annoyance, and in their own home.