The facts

“I broke my brother’s electric razor!” said Douglas.
“Gosh, you don’t need to use it yet!” said William. “If you thought you were gettin’ a moustache it mus’ have been choc’late. Choc’late can look jus’ like a moustache.”
“’Course I didn’t think I was gettin’ a moustache,” said Douglas. “I used it for a plane.”
“What d’you mean, a plane?” said William.
“Well, I was makin’ a little boat. Jus’ a little one an’ I wanted a little plane to plane the sides to make ’em nice an’ smooth an’ I thought an electric razor would be jus’ the thing for it.”


This story is possibly a step too far into the modern world. Although the allure of a William who remains 11 years old throughout the 1920s (when he was interested in dressing up as a lion to scare people: William Spoils the Party, 5.11) and 1940s (when he is determined not to “waste an air raid sleepin’ in it”: William the Salvage Collector, 23.7) all the way through to the 1960s is undoubted, I just can’t quite see William – unaesthetic, uncultured, boyish William – as the sort of child who would fall under the spell of a boy band.

But apparently he has.

The main theme of the story is the Outlaws’ need to raise two pounds to replace Hector’s electric razor, destroyed by Douglas in a boat-making accident.

“Let’s think over all the people we know that have got money an’ see how they got it.”
“There’s the Botts,” suggested Ginger.
“He makes sauce,” said Henry.
“We could make sauce all right,” said William.
“You can make money on horses,” said Henry, “but I’m not sure how you do it.”
“There’s doctors an’ lawyers,” said William, “but you’ve got to pass exams before you can start bein’ one of them an’ it’d take too long.”

A car had drawn up at the side of the green and three young men were getting out of it. They wore tight black trousers, black jackets and white shirts. Their black hair was sleeked away from their foreheads. They approached the Outlaws.
“Have you seen a young man anywhere about here?” said the tallest. “A young man who looks…”
“Like us,” said one of the others.
The Outlaws were gazing at them open-mouthed.
“Gosh!” said William. “You’re the…”
“Argonauts!” said Henry.

Eventually they settle on becoming strolling players, and assemble what costumes they can so as to decide which play to perform (I’m sure that’s exactly how the Royal Shakespeare Company does it too).

While they’re performing to an empty village green, they come across a depressed pop singer being pursued by the other members of his group.

And by a complete and particularly ridiculous coincidence, the pop singers just happen to have a spare electric razor.

The facts

“D’you feel any mental trouble?” said William.
“No,” said Ginger after a moment’s consideration.
“I’ve cured you, then,” said Wimam triumphantly.


A famous psychiatrist is staying in the village (suffering from depression!) but on hearing about the craft of psychiatry, William feels he could do a better job. And so the sign goes up on the Old Barn:


They painted the wall in patches: red, blue, green and yellow. The paint spread up William’s arms, down Ginger’s neck, over both their faces. Again they stepped back to consider the result.
“Well, I mus’ say I like it,” said William. “Don’t you?”
“Yes, I do,” said Ginger. “It jus’ couldn’t help cheerin’ anyone up.”

He fails to cure his first patient, who is feeling down in the dumps due to the collapse of his engagement; but as William remarks, “Crackers! He jolly well deserves his mental troubles.”

But the boys’ second patient is Mr Summers, the famous psychiatrist. And while they don’t cure him (William does, quite perceptively, observe: “It’s your fault if you’re not cured; you can’t have talked right”), he pays them so handsomely that the Outlaws feel obliged to do more to help him.

Rather oddly, their approach is to redecorate his house in highly eccentric, bold colours. Although they paint the wrong house… the one belonging to their first patient…

The facts

“The archaeologist got the idea that there must be a Roman villa somewhere on the estate and he’s been turning the place upside down to find it,” said Robert.
“Gosh! I wouldn’t take all that trouble over any ole Romans,” said William, adding with disgust, “They talked in Latin. They must have been dotty. I’d sooner bury them than dig ’em up any day.
‘Mensa’ an’ ‘dominus’ an’ all that rubbish!”


When William fails to persuade his family to give him any money to spend at the fair, despite the use of his famous ‘shame’ technique (“It might be the last fair I ever get the chance of goin’ to: lots of people in hist’ry died young. Well, the little princes in the Tower did”), he morosely gives up and goes to spy on Robert volunteering at a local archaeological dig. Robert’s main motivation is not the discovery of Roman remains, but the discovery of Hermione Monson, the archaeologist’s daughter. Anyway, very few Roman remains seem to be turning up.

“It’s fantastic,” said Hermione. “It’s too fantastic for words. He’s the most frightful-looking boy I’ve ever seen in my life and he springs up from nowhere with his pockets full of the most fantastic Roman finds and he just stands there chewing currants!”

When William tires of spying, he goes for a wander and comes across a friendly old man building a new garden path. In the course of their labour, they come across a few obstacles: old, worn coins; fragments of pot; bits of old mouldy jewellery…

William gets his sixpence.