The facts

“Gosh!” said William. “What a lot of sausage rolls!”
“Yes, I don’t know why I bought so many,” said Mrs Brown. “They were selling them off.”
“I’ll eat them for you if you like,” said William.
“All right, dear. They’ll do for your supper.”
When she came back William was kneeling on a chair, eating sausage rolls and reading the evening paper. Most of the newsprint was obscured by crumbs, but he cleared them away as he read.
“Gosh!” he said indistinctly. “Nearly a whole page about teachers strikin’.”
“It’s very sad, dear,” said Mrs Brown. “I hope yours won’t.”
“I hope they will,” said William.


Archie has been roped in, by the indomitable Mrs Monks, to running the hoop-la stall at the church fair, but he is anxious to attend the (simultaneous) tennis club fête because Ethel will be there and he wants to make himself helpful to Ethel.

William finds this baffling (“Gosh! I’d sooner have a hoop-la stall than Ethel any day!”) but offers to run the hoop-la stall himself so as to free Archie for Ethel-chasing duties. Even though Archie won’t trust him with it, William insists.

William slid neatly down the balusters.
“Oh, William!” groaned Mrs Brown. “I thought you’d gone to bed.”
“I have,” said William. “I mean, I am going. But I’ve got a smashing idea, Mother. Listen! If they do go on strike an’ we can’t go to school, we ought to get unemployment pay, oughtn’t we?”
“William, what nonsense!”
“Yes, but listen…” began William.

The hoop-la prizes, he is told, are in a brown suitcase. Inevitably William opens the wrong brown suitcase and chaos ensues – but then (and we’ve had this ending before: see eg William the Rat Lover, 17.4) William unexpectedly enters and wins a fancy-dress competition.

 The facts

“All right,” said William. “I don’t want to stay here anyway. I don’t want to go on wastin’ my time tryin’ to help people that don’t want to be helped an’ that don’t know what’s an excitin’ party an’ what isn’t.” He rose with dignity from his seat on the hearthrug. “An’ I wouldn’t help you now, not if – not if you came on your bended knees beggin’ me to.”
He withdrew from the room, much impressed by his parting
speech. “Huh!” he said to himself, as he slid down the banisters and landed in a heap at the bottom of the stairs. “I bet they’re feelin’ small.”


Ethel and Robert reluctantly admit William into their plans for an anniversary party for their parents – and begin to regret their decision when his suggestions include “an animal show with Jumble an’ a stag beetle an’ Henry’s tortoise”.

When William nevertheless goes ahead and buys a white rat for the purpose, it causes chaos throughout the village… but Mr Brown doesn’t mind too much in the end.

 The facts

“It’s a jolly good play,” said William, “We’ll act it.”
“When?” said Henry.
“Where?” said Ginger.
“Why?” said Douglas.
“Tomorrow in the old barn,” said William, ignoring Douglas’s question. “Everyone’ll come to watch it.”
“I bet they won’t,” said Douglas gloomily. “Not with television. They all watch television plays now.”
A light broke out over William’s countenance. “Tell you what!” he said. ‘I’ve got an idea. We’ll make it a television play. Gosh! It’ll be better than any ordin’ry television play.”
“Well, in television plays you only see the pictures of the people an’ in this one you’ll see the real people.”
He took a crumpled piece of paper from the floor, wrinkled his brows again ferociously for a few moments, then sent his stubby pencil scoring across it in a sudden access of inspiration:
“There will be a reel live tellyvishun sho not just pitchers here tomorro aftemune at three oklock diffrent from ordinry tellyvishun a knew invention of William Browns the first time evver seen by ennybody in the hole world fre to all.
cined William Brown.”


It’s slightly unclear what distinguishes William’s “live television play where you can see the real people not just picutres of them” from, er, a play, but nevertheless the Outlaws throw themselves into it with enthusiasm.

As the audience reports to the Old Barn, the director announces: “It’s called The Kidnapper’s Downfall or The Bloody Steps or The Octopus’s Revenge by William Brown. It’s got a lot of names ’cause a lot of things happen in it.”

Then – showing rather more creative spirit – they decide to re-enact some other shows from TV, including Animal, Vegetable, Mineral? (with an element of physical combat added in for effect).

Things only really start to go wrong when one of the spectators asks for a re-enactment of a programme about house demolition.

Ethel, meanwhile, is mercilessly playing Archie Mannister and Oswald Franks (her two current admirers) off against each other, by the slightly random technique of pretending she would swoon into the arms of whichever of them successfully builds a hen-house.

William mounted the precarious packing-case that served as his platform. “Now listen, everyone,” he said. “Shut up an’ listen. I’m goin’ to make a speech, so shut up.” The tumult partially subsided. “We’re goin’ to give you a new sort of television show an’ you’ve not got to pay anythin’. It’s goin’ to be free.”
“And dear at that, I shouldn’t wonder,” put in a shrill voice.
“Shut up, Arabella Simpkin,” said William.

Then the house-demolishers approach…