Welcome to the conclusion of our latest Tale for Our Time - Richmal Crompton's view of electoral politics as seen through the eyes of her eternal 1920s schoolboy William Brown and his gang of "Outlaws". In Part Two of William, Prime Minister, having triumphed as the Conservative candidate, William finds himself unaccustomed to the pressures of the job:
'I'm Prime Min'ster now... I'm goin' to rule the country.'
'What are you goin' to do for us first?' said the boy with red hair.
'Do for you?' repeated William indignantly. 'I'm not goin' to do anythin' for you. I'm goin' to rule.'
'But that means doin' things for us,' persisted the boy with red hair. 'I know it does. We learnt it at show. It's somethin' called civics.'
Thank you for all your kind comments about one of several intrusions of politics into Richmal Crompton's world. Brian, a First Hour Founding Member of The Mark Steyn Club from Washington State, writes:
My late father grew up in the Thirties largely in Victoria, BC. He passed along to me his love of reading and a youthful book collection that included P. G. Wodehouse, Edgar Wallace (it is impossible not to be thrilled by Edgar Wallace), Sapper, and Richmal Crompton.
The same age as William, I loved his exploits and I loved everything about the writing - the understated and sly humor, the plot twists, and a window into the mores and foibles of middle-class England in the Thirties as seen through the eyes of an eleven-year-old rascal, not completely beyond understanding to a lad living in 1950s America.
I would now in my dotage dare to argue that Richmal Crompton, sidelined to some extent with polio, was as astute an observer of her society as was Jane Austen.
Fabulous voicing of the characters, Mark. I'd be thrilled if you squeezed in a William story every couple of months as a literary palate cleanser. I would love to hear your Hubert Lane, just to mention one member of the Crompton pantheon.
Crumbs backatcha, Brian: Hubert Lane! In fact, I found the voices rather taxing, and was rather relieved not to have embarked on something Daniel Defoe-length. But a lot of listeners want a return visit to William's world just to hear my Violet Elizabeth Bott (although that tireless trouper Bonnie Langford is the one and only Violet Elithabeth now and forever). Veronica from Auckland, New Zealand says:
As someone who did a bit of mild feminist agitating for more lady novelists, I am delighted to see one of Richmal Crompton's 'Just William' stories join the TFOT shelves. I haven't read one in ages, not since school in fact, and I'd forgotten how much fun they are. A pity the incomparable Miss Violet Elizabeth Bott didn't put in an appearance, or even the lovely girl next door Joan, but you can't have everything. Well not unless you thwceam and thwceam until you're thick that is :)
And finally David from London:
I have always enjoyed your introductions to the various Tales for Our Time presentations, which invariably give a contemporary insight into the story we are about to hear, along with intriguing biographical information about the author. I was particularly looking forward to hearing what you might have to say about Richmal Crompton and the Just William stories, which I adored reading as a child. Did I miss this somewhere?
Alas, David, that's what I meant about the taxing voices: I literally had none left after doing Miss Dallypots and the rest, so I had to set that aside. William was, as I mentioned, a mere curtain-raiser for the rather meatier political tale we have for you starting next weekend - and I can promise you that will come with the traditional introduction.
Thank you so much for your compliments about Tales for Our Time upon the occasion of our fourth anniversary. Some like the ripping yarns for boys, some the more genteel social comedy for girls, and some of you even enjoyed our summer whimsy from yours truly. But of the tales in totality all seem to be in favor.
If you've yet to hear any of our audio adventures, you can enjoy four years' worth - by Conan Doyle, Kafka, Conrad, Gogol, Dickens, Baroness Orczy, P G Wodehouse, Louisa May Alcott, Robert Louis Stevenson and more - by joining The Mark Steyn Club. For details on membership, see here - and, if you're seeking the perfect gift for a fan of classic fiction, don't forget our Steyn Club Gift Membership. Sign up that special someone today!