wrongful eating

The facts

“I’ve got a jolly good idea,” said William. “It’s come to me quite sudden. We’ll go over the road to the woods on the other side an’ play Red Indians.”
“We’re s’posed to be doin’ nature,” said Douglas.
“Well, Red Indians are nature,” said William. “Gosh! They’re nat’ral, aren’t they?”


During the school’s annual wild-flower-gathering competition, even Mr Crisp is bored stiff, and doesn’t really notice when the Outlaws sneak off for a ‘quiet’ game of Red Indians.

But it turns out there is a girls’ school operating in the same area, and one of its members attaches herself to the Outlaws as their squaw. And, with a Violet Elizabeth-esque determination not to be shaken off, they are stuck with her. But on the plus side, she offers them delightful delicacies, in huge quantities.

“You… you’ve none of you noticed anything strange going on, have you?” asked Miss Hampshire.
“No,” said the Outlaws. The blank imbecility of their expressions would have roused suspicion in anyone who knew them, but, fortunately for them, Miss Hampshire did not know them.

It all turns out alright, though, and they even manage to entertain a bird-watcher, foil a crime, feed Douglas monstrous quantities of sweets in a deliberate attempt to make him vomit up some poison (I particularly enjoy this scene: “Mr Bentley, standing behind his counter, was mildly surprised by the sight of three boys watching with tense, set faces a fourth boy eating an ice-cream”), complete a struggling writer’s poem, help the headmistress of the girls’ school, and, best of all, find an exceptionally rare flower.

 The facts

“Do stop messing about with your food, William,” said Mrs Brown.
“I’m not messin’,” said William. “This spoon’s a jet bomber swoopin’ down on the fortress.” He emitted a nerve-shattering sound, then looked earnestly at his mother. “Did that sound like a jet-bomber?”
“I don’t know,” said Mrs Brown faintly, “but don’t do it again.”

  • Number: 29.7
  • Published: 1954 (1953 in magazine form)
  • Book: William and the Moon Rocket
  • Synopsis: William is outraged at discrimination in favour of the over-60s.


Somewhat of a reprise of Pensions for Boys, 18.9, William is irked by all the preferential treatment that over-60s receive: trips, lunches and more:

“People naturally want to do all they can to cheer up the old.”
“Well, why don’t they want to do all they can to cheer up the young?’

“If everyone was like you,” said William severely, “no-one’d ever have discovered anythin’ – not America nor… nor fountain pens nor anythin’.”

And so the village’s Over-Ten club is born, as a counterpart to the Over-Sixties club:

Nottis Ergunt
overtenn klub
Their will, be a meating tomorrough aftemun of peeple over, tenn to gett up an overtenn, klub ennyone, overtenn kan kum not, annimuls William Brown prezidant will maik a speach peeple, that interrupp him will, be chuckd out
cined William Brown

The children of the locale are not entirely united in support:

“Why not wait till we get to be over sixty?” suggested a placid-looking child who was licking a toffee apple. “Everyone gets to be over sixty if they wait long enough. It only wants a bit of patience.”
“I’d like to see William Brown sixty,” jeered Arabella. “Gosh! He’ll be worth lookin’ at. He’s a sight to start with.”

William has some difficulty persuading the adults as well; in particular, the commissaire at the cinema refuses to let them in for free. They do discover a banquet which is available for them to eat (not entirely legitimately), but inevitably:

Overtenn klub
The overtenn klub will be klozed til furthur nottis.
cined William Brown.

 The facts

“You see, dear,” Mrs Brown said, “you and your friends can form a sort of Houses of Parliament and… well,” vaguely, “pretend to be Ministers of the Crown and that sort of thing and… and discuss politics.”
“Yes,” said William and added with rising interest, “yes, it’s a jolly good idea.”
Mrs Brown stifled a slight feeling of misgiving.

  • Number: 29.2
  • Published: 1954 (1953 in magazine form)
  • Book: William and the Moon Rocket
  • Synopsis: Mrs Brown suggests that William might like to play a game called ‘House of Commons’.


Inevitably William is going to turn Mrs Brown’s suggestion of a nice, quiet game – House of Commons – into a disaster. Partly because he believes that Black Rod is “the chucker-out”, partly because he takes the view that “it’s educational so that makes it all right, whatever happens”, and partly just because he’s William.

Their first task is to secure accommodation for their game:

“We’ll have to find a house. We ought to have more than one to call it the Houses of Parliament, but we’ll manage with one.”
“Yes, an’ how’ll we find one?” said Henry. “It isn’t so easy, findin’ houses.”
William glanced at the houses that bordered the road along which they were walking.
“There’s lots about,” he said carelessly.
“Yes, but there’s people livin’ in them,” Ginger pointed out.
“There’s lors about houses,” said Henry darkly. “Some people can’t get in ’em an’ some people can’t be got out of ’em. It’s not so easy.”
But William’s optimism was not to be dispelled. “I bet I get one,” he said, licking the last vestiges of lollipop from a stick before he threw it away. “I bet I get one all right.”
“I bet you don’t,” said Douglas, “an’ I bet even if you do it’ll get us in a muddle.”

“I’ll be the Foreign Secret’ry,” said Douglas. “I’m jolly good at bein’ foreign.” He extended his mouth in an imbecile grin, gesticulated wildly and said in a high-pitched squeaky voice, “Je suis, tu es, il est… hic, haec, hoc… bonus, bona, bonum… la plume, la porte, la fiddlededee, la thingamagig.”
William and Ginger laughed hilariously, but Henry looked doubtful.
“I don’t think the Foreign Secret’ry axshully is foreign,” he said.
“’Course he is,” said Douglas, elated by his success. “If he’s called a foreign secret’ry he mus’ be foreign.”
“’Course he mus’,” said William. “Stands to reason he mus’. Well, it’s news to me if a foreign secret’ry isn’t foreign.”

After ‘buying’ a house from a little girl for five shillings, and proceeding to eat its entire contents, they allocate roles (“Well, come on, let’s look for a whip”) and get down to business.

“That was a jolly good fight,” said William as he picked himself up.
“They call it a debate,” said Henry.
“Well, it was a jolly good debate, then,” said William. “Let’s have another.”

Fortunately, their occupation/ destruction of the house they are using turns out not to be as disastrous as could be…