visiting lecturers

The facts

“She’s not your aunt. She’s mine,” said Ginger pugnaciously.
“I’ll fight you for her,” said William.
“A’right,” agreed Ginger, taking off his coat.
They fought and William won.
“Now she’s my aunt,” said William complacently.
“Well, you can call her your aunt,” said Ginger, “but the fac’ remains she’s my father’s sister.”

  • Number: 6.2
  • Published: 1926 (1925 in magazine form)
  • Book: William the Conqueror
  • Synopsis: The Outlaws put on a show for Ginger’s aunt, on the same day as the village lecture on Egyptology.

Verdict

The Outlaws are so smitten by the graces of Ginger’s unexpectedly young aunt (“she’s beauteous an’ good an’… good… an… beauteous”) that they decide to organise a birthday show for her: specifically, ‘waxworks’ depicting scenes from history.

“Who was murdered or hung?”
“Er… Henry VIII.”
“No, he wasn’t. He was the one what had seven wives.”
“You’re gettin’ a bit muddled. That was the man goin’ to St Ives.”
“No, it was Henry VIII. One of us could be him an’ another could be the seven wives. We could have a label round his neck with ‘Seven Wives’ wrote on.”

Unfortunately for the Outlaws’ teachers, and fortunately for almost everyone else, their grasp of history is fairly limited. So they discuss the rival merits of acting out Henry VIII’s seven wives, Charles I (“his head was chopped off an’ he said he was sorry he took such a long time dyin’ an’ keepin’ everyone waitin'”), “Turpin Dick” and Christopher Columbus discovering America (“William was Columbus and Henry, Douglas and Ginger, lying on the ground side by side, were America”).

And of course they throw in William’s famous impersonation of General Moult (“Ladies an’ gen’l’men, if you’ll kin’ly watch careful this is General Moult walkin’ along the road, lifelike an’ nat’ral”).

Due to William mistaking a message from Mrs Flowerdew (Ginger’s mother) for one from Miss Flowerdew (Ginger’s aunt), they perform on-stage in the parish hall, where the entire village – General Moult included, alongside Mr and Mrs Brown – is gathered for a lecture on Egyptology by a distinguished professor.

The village, of course, enjoys the waxworks far more than the lecture…