job hunting

The facts

“I’ll get you a job,” said William. The words were out of his mouth almost before he knew that he was going to say them. A flicker of doubt passed through his mind, a vague memory of other similar tasks that he had undertaken with disastrous results; but he stifled the doubts, dispelled the memories and repeated, “Yes, I bet I can get you a job all right.”
There was a hopeful gleam in the old man’s eyes as he turned to look at William.
“Well, of course, you’re only a boy, but you’ve prob’ly got local influence.”
“Oh, yes, I’ve got local infl’ence,” said William airily.
“People know you…?”
“Oh, yes. People know me all right,” said William.


William makes the acquaintance of a 78-year-old occupant of an old-age home who is still full of joie de vie and wants an escape from the dullness of his life. (In 1961, the average life expectance of a man was 68 so he was doing very well to be as fit as he was!)

Enchanted by Mr Mason’s friendliness, William determines to get him a job. He starts the search at home:

“I say, Dad,” began William.
Mr Brown grunted.
“Didn’t you say you were short-handed at the office?”
“I did, my boy. Very short-handed.”
“Well, would you like an old man?”
“A what?” said Mr Brown, startled. “A what, did you say?”
“An old man,” repeated William patiently. “I can let you have one. An old man in the prime of life with the strength of ten young men. He’s felled trees over a hundred feet high. I bethe’d be jolly useful to you in the office.”
 “In the event of our needing a tree felled in the office,” said Mr Brown, “I will certainly get in touch with your friend.”

“Can this man play the organ?” the Vicar asked sternly.
“Well,” temporised William, “I don’t know that he can axshully play it ’cause I don’t think he’s ever tried, but I bet he could if someone jus’ showed him how to. He’s in the prime of life an’ he’s got the strength of…”
Suddenly and inexplicably, as it seemed to William, he found himself, at this point, outside the closed front door of the Vicarage.

Both this avenue of investigation, and all his other ones, come to nought. Especially hopeless was his application – on Mr Mason’s behalf – for the post of church organist.

But then the two of them run into General Moult (and are briefly arrested by him for housebreaking) and everything turns out for the best.

 The facts

“And, to crown all,” Ethel raged to Archie, “you’ve got to bring that object home in the car with us.”
“What object?” said William, mystified.
“You,” said Ethel tersely.

  • Number: 31.1
  • Published: 1958 (not to be confused with the 1935 unpublished story, 18.0, of the same name
  • Book: William’s Television Show
  • Synopsis: Archie gets a job (to an extent).


Goaded by Ethel that he “couldn’t hold a proper job for a week”, Archie vows to prove her wrong and obtain gainful employment.

Sure enough, before the week is out, the village gets used to the sight of Archie putting on a suit and catching the 8:15 train to work every morning.

One day, while he’s out, William and Ginger espy a shadowy figure making its way around his cottage; upon establishing that Archie owns nothing valuable enough to steal, William concludes:

“He was out after…” – William looked slightly self-conscious as he repeated the phrase he had come across in one of Robert’s books – “He was out after bigger game.”
“What bigger game?”
“P’litical,” said William. “International secrets an’ such like.”

“We’d better go in armed, ’cause they’ll prob’ly be desperate. I’ll take my water-pistol.”

But imagine their surprise when they discover that the intruder looks exactly the same as Archie! It must be his twin brother…

 The facts

“Yesterday my mother was talkin’ to me about givin’ people a helpin’ hand an’ not always thinkin’ about yourself an’ it started me wonderin’
who to give a helpin’ hand to an’ I sort of fixed on Ethel,” said William.
The Outlaws’ expressions showed disapproval. “If you want someone to give a helpin’ hand to,” said Henry, “there’s me. I’ve always wanted that water-pistol of yours.”
“Well, I’m jolly well not goin’ to give it to you,” said William with spirit. “I’m only givin’ a helpin’ hand an’ a helpin’ hand’s different from a water-pistol.”


Overcome with gratitude for Ethel’s gift of an old fountain pen, William decides to give her a helping hand. They go through a heap of newspapers looking for job adverts (after discounting Poultry World) and eventually set their sights on a position vacant for a cat-carer.

There then ensues a wonderful scene:

“Look! Here’s an advert,” said Ginger. “‘Gentlewoman wanted as companion-help to elderly lady. No rough work. Every comfort.’”
“Yes, that sounds all right,” said William, interested. “She’s jolly good at havin’ every comfort… No, it won’t do. Look! It says ‘Pleasant disposition essential’ an’ she’s jolly well not got one. I bet she’d snap this elderly lady’s head off the minute she started crackin’ nuts or chewin’ gum or borrowing her things…”

“I’ll put on my p’lite manner,” said William, “an’ we’ll make a bit of p’lite conversation then we’ll ask for this job for Ethel. I’ve got it all organised im my mind. I’m a jolly good organist.”
“She can only say ‘no’, anyway,” said Ginger.
“I’ve known people do more than that,” said Douglas darkly.
Suddenly the door opened and a middle-aged woman with grey hair and a thin vague-looking face stood looking at them. “Are you trying to break the house down?” she said sternly.
“No,” William reassured her. “No, we’re not tryin’ to break the house down.” He assumed the wooden expression and glassy smile of his ‘polite manner’ and added, “Good afternoon.”
“It’s a mercy every piece of glass in the place isn’t broken,” she said. “Is that the way you generally knock at people’s doors?”
“Yes,” said William simply, then, intensifying the glassiness of his smile, added, “How are you?”
“What do you mean, how am I?” said the woman. “I’ve not been ill.”
“I’m glad you haven’t been ill,” said William, baring his teeth with a further effort. “It’s a nice day, isn’t it?”
The woman stared at him and he abandoned his smile to give his followers a scowl that urged them to second his efforts. “The days are drawing in,” said Henry hastily, repeating a remark that he had overheard in the post-office the day before.
“An’ the nights are drawing out,” said Ginger after a moment’s thought.
They looked at Douglas. who turned purple with mental effort as he strove to find some suitable contribution. “The evenings,” he said at last, “seem pretty much the same,” then, with a burst of inspiration, repeated a remark that he had heard his father make at breakfast, “an’ our foreign affairs seem to have reached a deadlock.”
William realised suddenly that their hostess was keeping them standing on her doorstep and a note of severity crept into his voice. “We’II come in an’ sit down if you like.”

But when William hears that a “film man” is staying in the village, he knows that his one mission in life is to have Ethel made a film star. He tries to organise an audition (and rather makes a rod for his own back by notifying neither Ethel nor the film man that the chain of events he is setting in place are an audition) – but he feels satisfied at the end of the story nonetheless.