Thursday, 30 December 2010

Just Martin

I've really been enjoying the latest BBC adaptation of Richmal Crompton's stories about the mischievous schoolboy, William Brown, and his pals, The Outlaws. I sit there, sniggering, and empathising with the eleven year old lad who, as yet, has no room in his world for girls.

So, did boys ever really career through the woods, engaging each other in mock sword fights? Yes.
Did they really slap their backsides, to gee-up their imaginary steeds? Yes.
Did they really arrive home with lame excuses for being covered in mud, from head to toe? Yes.

At the end of a dim and distant 'parents evening', my long-suffering maths teacher, Mr Shields, shrugged his shoulders and confirmed what my mother already knew, too well,  that she had produced the kind of boy that should try harder. My problem was, there were too many better things to do, other than pay attention in class. For instance, I could use my time more creatively by manufacturing miniature blowpipes from empty fountain pen cartridges. Simply snip off the ends, load with wet paper pellets of the correct calibre, and blow. After some practice, it was possible to hit the back of someone's head, from twelve or fifteen feet.

Daniel Roche, as the BBC's current incarnation of William

In my eleventh year, we moved to the town. The lads at my new school seemed to be hard-edged, compared with those I had known in the country. Nevertheless, there were a half a dozen or so I gravitated towards. Our common interests revolved around, tree climbing, football, bicycles, fishing and maintaining a girl-free zone.

Yours truly. A delightful young man. 

I have, largely, happy childhood memories. Those things I wished to be different, were in the hands of grown-ups, so I never got to vote. Not many children do.

Once, my science teacher, at secondary school, held me back after a particularly disastrous chemistry lesson, a little incident with a bunsen burner, as I recall. He warned me that, unless I knuckled down, I would come to no good. Oddly, he seemed to think I had the potential to be a master criminal or a comedian. At the time of our discussion, he hadn't, yet, decided which!

Early signs of me in William Brown mode, HERE.


  1. Having been somewhat of a tomboy in my early years, I can totally relate. So glad you became a master of words, instead of all things criminal!

  2. You sound exactly like Just William!

  3. Climbing trees and being late for tea...I remember those days well, Martin. A different world. Not all changes are for the best; we were so free to enjoy the outdoors. It really was safer back then. It's a shame that kids don't get to enjoy the countryside the way we did.

    Nice post. :-)

  4. I'm greatfull for being a boy in the forties and having that freedom that seems to be missing these days

  5. A cheerful trip down the scuff-marks of memory lane.

  6. A lovely romp along with your through your boyhood years. I had a wonderful carefree childhood too that didn't really have room for school work least, I didn't think it did.

  7. I had a similarly carefree childhood, as well as an imaginary horse. My sons played all over our mountain, brandishing wooden swords and plywood shields.

  8. Ah, now, this is a post that is dear to my heart, Martin. Because you see, as a child I thought Just William WAS my Dad!! We grew up listening to his outrageous (and I now know sometimes rather exaggerated) stories of his boyhood in the 40's and 50's, and also reading his Just William books, which he still has to this day. As a out and out tomboy I did model myself somewhat on him at a certain age. :-)
    I do look forward to seeing this series, I've been hearing good things about it, and I have a little boy of 7 here who I think would get a kick out of it! (Our own William is more of the Sweet variety as yet, but he is still only three so we'll see!)

  9. Tess - We had tomboys in our little band, and some were a lot more adventurous than we lads!

    Fran - Those teachers who survived, would probably agree with you...wholeheartedly.

    Paul, geraldgee and Marilyn - Yes, it was a different land. The older I get, the more privileged I feel.

    English Rider - I was a master of the art of scuffing.

    Vicki - Isn't it great to have that? I remember running around until were all on our backs, gasping, and entirely speechless.

    Ciara - When I think back, and some of the things we did... well, you've already had a good briefing from your Dad.

    It was the last in the 'Just William' series today. I was left, hoping it had been enjoyed by youngsters. Of course, it may well have been a tad too gentle for the tastes of today.

    Our daughter bought us a Kindle for Christmas. This afternoon I downloaded three Just William books, legally, and for free!


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.