They were passing a stile leading to a path over the field which was blocked by a large notice, “Unexploded Bomb”.
The notice had been there for the past three weeks and at first the Outlaws had spent the greater part of each day standing in front of it and trying to circumvent the policeman whose duty it was to guard the path, in order to make closer investigation.
However, it was now known that the unexploded bomb was a “dud”.
“It would be a dud,” said William morosely as they passed. “We never have any luck!”
- Number: 23.8
- Published: 1941 (same year in magazine form)
- Book: William Does His Bit
- Synopsis: Mrs Bott refuses to Dig for Victory.
William may be enjoying the war immensely, but Mrs Bott is finding it a pain. The shortage of smoked salmon; the rising price of bacon; and now, to add one more trouble to her already overburdened brain, the villagers are demanding that she open up the palatial grounds of The Hall as allotments supplying England with much-needed vegetables.
Mrs Bott is having none of it: “As for veggies, me an’ Botty never ’ave cared for ’em. Rather ’ave somethin’ tasty any day. I tell you, it’d fair take my appetite away to see a lot of common people diggin’ whenever I looked out of the winder.”
“I’d rather be a p’liceman than have to do all the rotten ole homework we have to do,” said Ginger. “Gosh! They don’t know what work is, don’t p’licemen – jus’ goin for nice walks all day same as if they was on holiday. Gosh! I wish I’d nothing to do all day but go for nice walks about the country, same as a policeman, ’stead of wearin’ my brain outover sums an’ suchlike…”
William also has a problem: his conscience is troubling him, because he knows that his (unintentional) destruction of Mrs Beverton’s tasteful exhibition of bits of German aeroplanes in William – the Salvage Collector, 23.7, deprived the Spitfire Fund of desperately-needed income. So he resolves to put together his own exhibition to make up for it.
The first artefact that William and Ginger discover on their optimistic ramble is a large sign warning ‘Unexploded Bomb’, which they hastily abstract from its rightful owner and dump by the roadside pending the arrival of Henry and Douglas to help with the lifting. The precise piece of roadside on which they dump it happens to form the gates to The Hall.
What follows is amusing but, sadly, predictable, and a close mirror of William and the Air Raid Shelter, 22.5.
Innuendo note: Mrs Bott appears to be a precursor to Mrs Slocombe when the story ends with the words, “Well! I oughter be safe for a bit now – pussy an’ all.”