Day 207: William and the Sea-Side Show

 The facts

“Seems silly to me,” said William, “that the sea-side should only be at the sea. Seems to me that if only people’d take a bit of trouble they could have it anywhere.”
“But.there’s got to be sea at the sea-side,” said Douglas. “You can’t have sea-side anywhere but at the sea.”
“Well, what’s the sea but water?” replied William.
“There’s salt in the sea,” said Henry triumphantly.
“Well, you can put salt in a pond, can’t you?” snapped William.
“There’s sand at the sea-side,” said Ginger.
“Well, what’s sand but yellow earth?” said William. “I bet it’s easy enough to turn earth yellow. All you want to make a sea-side is a bit of water an’ a bit of salt an’ a bit of wood an’ a bit of ground an’ some blacking for the pierrots.”

  • Number: 19.1
  • Published: 1937 (1936 in magazine form, originally eponymously titled William the Showman, but then that would have clashed with 4.10 and 10.5)
  • Book: William the Showman
  • Synopsis: If the Outlaws can’t go to the beach, the beach will just have to come to the Outlaws.


William is way ahead of the Southbank Centre as he comes up with the idea of creating an artificial beach in the village, for the benefit of the village’s boys (and, more specifically, for the financial benefit of the Outlaws).

To be fair, they do manage to put on a pretty good show, and are let down mainly by their policy of charging not only a penny for entry but also a penny for every individual component and attraction; as Arabella Simpkin disdainfully points out, “I can jolly well walk on an ole plank anywhere for nothin’ an’ I’m goin’ to here, too.”

“Who’ll give the donkey rides?” said Douglas.
“You,” said William promptly.
“All right,” said Douglas after a moment’s silence in which he wondered whether to consider this an insult or an honour and decided, finally that it would be less trouble to consider it an honour.

But then William happens to come across a man on the road who has lost his performing monkey, and who puts his barrel organ down while he searches for it.

William naturally ‘borrows’ the barrel organ, finds the monkey, and turns his event into a massive success.

Then the real owner of the organ and monkey comes along, with a policeman. And the dance continues!