Day 213: William the Film Star

 The facts

The Outlaws suggested wild ideas in order to get even with Hubert over it. They suggested asking the Prime Minister, the Pope, the Emperor of Abyssinia, Hitler, and the head of Scotland Yard to a banquet.
They even wrote to some of them but none of them answered.

  • Number: 19.7
  • Published: 1937 (same year in magazine form)
  • Book: William the Showman
  • Synopsis: William assumes the role of a child film star.

Verdict

The Outlaws manage to get the whole village enthused with their idea of installing William as “children’s mayor”: all the boys excitedly dress up in elaborate municipal robes and attend a riotous and hugely enjoyable banquet. They all have a genuinely good time, until Hubert Lane pokes his nose in. Hubert Lane, and Mrs Lane, who “entered into all his activities with a zest that most people considered somewhat excessive” (a bit like her brother then: see Uncle Charlie and the Outlaws, 18.8).

“Besides we’ve got a little surprise for you, Jimmy,” said Mrs Lane. “I know Hubert isn’t a famous actor like you, because, for one thing, of course, he doesn’t need to earn his living, but he really has talent, and I want you to hear him recite before you go. Now Hubert, dear.”
William watched and listened with an attentiveness that deeply gratified Hubert, who little knew that he was cherishing every word, every gesture for future use. He clapped loudly and enthusiastically at the end. It had been indeed a veritable treasure trove for the Laneites v Outlaws feud.

They found their own, rival, local authority, and bribe the village’s boys into joining it. It grows so much that when Jimmy Minster, child film star, visits the village, it is Hubert’s council chamber that gets to host his welcoming banquet.

But it turns out Jimmy is no more anxious to be hosted by Hubert than the Outlaws are. He is a boy after William’s heart, and gladly agrees to swap clothes with William so that he, Jimmy, can have a rare opportunity to play with ordinary boys, and William can go to tea with Hubert and pick up material for future humiliation.