Day 234: William and the Badminton Racket

The facts

Instead of the placid, easy-going gentleman who generally taught William French and didn’t much care whether he learnt any or not, there appeared a fierce young man with a belligerent moustache, a ferocious scowl and an awe-compelling eye.
“Seems to think”, said William bitterly, “I’ve got nothin’ better to do with my time than his beastly ole exercises.”

  • Number: 21.8
  • Published: 1939 (1938 in magazine form) – originally titled William’s Day Off, not to be confused with William’s Day Off, 21.3
  • Book: William and Air Raid Precautions
  • Synopsis: William decides he fancies a day off school.


Ethel is dating a pompous local medical student, and swept up in the craze for badminton which has overtaken the village. William too is keen to play badminton, but nobody will let him use their racket.

But a greater crisis is on the horizon: William has failed to do his French homework, and a painful consequence will await him at school. “His mind leapt nimbly to the only possible solution of the problem. He must be ill.”

His mind went quickly over the possible illnesses. Headaches were no good. He’d tried them often. Rheumatism was worse. He was simply laughed at when he tried rheumatism.

He decides to have “liver trouble”, and Ethel’s Dr Ashtead promptly arrives on the scene. More out of a desire to show off to Ethel, than as a consequence of medical necessity, he announces that William has appendicitis and will need to be operated upon at once.

William, who hadn’t really expected his malingering to succeed, was, therefore, quite surprised to find himself in an ambulance on his way to his old foe Dr Bell. Fortunately for his innocent appendix, Dr Bell sees through the deception straight away.

And then so does Ethel…