youth activities

 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

Ginger had brought an old diary that his mother (who was an indifferent cook) had thrown away, in the empty spaces of which he meant to enrol the names of the pets and the owners who joined the club.
Arabella Simpkin arrived pushing a pram.
“What’s your pet?” said William coldly.
“’Im,” said Arabella, pointing to the pram’s occupant.
William looked down at the features of Arabella’s baby brother – repulsive even in sleep. “You can’t have him,” he said, outraged. “He’s not an animal.”
“That’s right!” shrilled Arabella. “Insult a pore kid wot can’t stand up for itself… ’E’s as good as an animal, isn’t ’e?”
William enrolled the repulsive baby among the pets: “Baby George Tommus Simpkin”.
Arabella watched him suspiciously. “’Ere! What’s this?” she said, reading the entry that was written just beneath the name. “’Baby pancakes. Flat and sodden.’ Startin’ insultin’ of ’im again, are you?”
“Oh, shut up!” said William. “That’s what Ginger’s mother wrote years an’ years ago.”

  • Number: 28.6
  • Published: 1952 (same year in magazine form)
  • Book: William the Tramp
  • Synopsis: William accidentally wins a fancy dress competition.


This story – or at least the printed version I have – contains the unique feature of an asterisk, in relation to Robert’s collection of birds’ eggs, sternly warning readers, “It is now against the law to collect the eggs of any British wild bird.” I have to say, given the amount of serious criminal offences William and the Outlaws have committed, it’s surprising this is considered the only one worth warning of. But there we go.

The birds’ eggs form an important part of the story, because Robert wants to give them as a present to the ridiculously-named Peregrine Forrester – Peregrine being the favoured younger brother of Dolores, who Robert particularly wants to impress.

“But your egg c’lection!” said William. “That ole
Pelican havin’ your egg c’lection! He’s no right. It’s
not fair. It’s – it’s the same as stealin’.”
“Don’t be absurd,” said Robert, “and his name’s Peregrin.”
“It can be Kangaroo for all I care,” said William heatedly. “It’s the meanest thing anyone’s done to anyone since the world began. It’s worse than Cain or Dr Crippen or – or Guy Fawkes or – or that man called Squeers that kept a school in Shakespeare or – or…”

Because the rest of the Browns are united that Robert should not give away such a treasured possession to anyone outside the family, he comes up with the clever technique of offering them as a prize for a local fancy dress competition, which he is sure will be won by the insufferably virtuous Peregrine.

But he reckons without William, who – his own clothes having been destroyed by an over-enthusiastic member of the Pets’ Club he has just founded – makes a surprise appearance…

The facts

Mrs Sedley-Mortimer was a small slight woman, so full of vitality that she seemed to quiver from head to foot even when standing or sitting quite still. She had untidy grey hair, sharp features, and an earnest expression, alternated by a flashing smile that came and went so quickly that one doubted its ever having come at all. Her chief characteristic was a capacity for talking incessantly without need of encouragement or response from her hearers, She said that from her earliest youth she had felt that her great gifts should be put at the service of her fellow creatures, and so she had put them at the service of her fellow creatures. Whether her fellow creatures appreciated them or not was a matter of indifference to her.


Mrs Sedley-Mortimer has no experience whatsoever of running youth activities, which is no doubt why she decided to found a “Youth on the Prow” group in the village. “My Movement,” she wrote, “is not for entertainment, but for inculcating the virtues of industry, obedience and self-control. Too many of these Youth Movements aim solely at filling in the young people’s time pleasantly. Mine has a higher function.” To confirm her determination that the group shouldn’t be too fun, she appoints Miss Milton and Mrs Monks to lead it.

One of Mrs Sedley-Mortimer’s most bizarre traits, which is, frankly, somewhat contrived, is her antipathy to make-up. She decides to make-up her face excessively in order to illustrate to the young girls in her charge how immodest cosmetics really are.

Unfortunately, William and Violet Elizabeth recently ‘borrowed’ most of the village’s supply of make-up to lend to a friend of theirs in the ATS…