Jinty 19 September 1981

Cover artist: Mario Capaldi

Dracula’s Daughter (artist Mario Capaldi) – final episode

Holiday Hideaway (artist Phil Gascoine)

‘Girl Called Scarecrow’ (artist Veronica Weir) – Gypsy Rose story

Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)

Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Peter Wilkes)

Man’s Best Friend – Toy Dogs

Stacy’s Posy (artist Mario Capaldi) – text story

The Sweet and Sour Rivals (artist Carlos Cruz)

Worlds Apart (artist Guy Peeters)

Winning Ways – Volleyball (writer Benita Brown)

Alley Cat (artist Rob Lee)

“Dracula’s Daughter” ends this week. The final episode has a four-page spread instead of the usual three, which further suggests this story was brought to a quick conclusion to help clear the decks for the merger. The extra page helps to develop the ending further and give things more room to breathe.

The ending: Everyone at Castlegate is relieved when Mr Graves decides to leave. He is returning to his old grammar school, this time as headmaster, after finding out its discipline has slipped so badly that its pupils are running amok, vandalising property, and getting into trouble with the police. Bully teacher Mrs Snape is leaving too, which is another great relief for Castlegate. She is transferring to another school, as she did not like her pupils’ company any more than they did hers – only to find one of them is going to follow her to her new school. Sonya, the popular teacher driven out by Mr Graves’ over-zealous drive to run the school on his strict grammar school lines, returns as headmistress, so the school’s even happier.

However, the ending doesn’t have everything being resolved with Mr Graves and Mrs Snape simply leaving Castlegate. It both surprises and impresses us by having Mr Graves develop and emerge less bigoted about schools should be run. He’s still a disciplinarian and wearing that dreadful, old-fashioned teacher’s gown that earned him the nickname “Dracula”. But he’s gone from believing his way is the only way to run a school to accepting that there is no one way of running a school. He’s also modified his view that fun does not belong in a school and should be kept in the home. Now he’s allowing some fun things at school and showing his pupils he has a funny side. His farewell gift to Castlegate reflects this: a complete collection of Dracula films to remember him by! The boys at the grammar school might get a surprise when they see the change in him. Perhaps even the teachers too.

Sadly, no improvement in the character of the horrible Mrs Snape, so there is a worry about the pupils at her new school. Oh well, can’t win ‘em all. At least she leaves Castlegate with a comeuppance of sorts.

The fifth dream world in “Worlds Apart” is now dying with its creator, Clare. Hers is the only imaginary death in the story that is not shown, so we don’t see how her dream world ultimately backfired on her, caused her death, and taught her the ultimate lesson about how horrible her dream world is. We are informed that the sixth and final dream world (followed by the conclusion to the story) will be a “horror film world”. Its creator is Jilly, a girl who seems to be in a perpetual state of fear. 

“Holiday Hideaway” is also approaching its conclusion. Hattie manages to save the family pretence (hiding in the house, pretending to be on holiday) from unravelling again. However, we are informed they are going to get “the shock of their lives” when they “‘come home’” next week. We suspect this has something to do with being caught out. 

This week’s Gypsy Rose story is a new one, not a repeat or a recycled Strange Story. Julia is bullied and called “scarecrow” because of her straw-like appearance and thin build, and being a bit timid. However, her scarecrow build helps one of her bully classmates (thin enough to slip out when they’re trapped in a barn and get help) when she has an accident. After that, everyone wants to be friends with Julia. However, Julia can’t tell them that she got help from a real scarecrow, which pointed her in the right path to take for help.  

In the other stories, the text story has Stacy dress up in period costume for a town festival. It brings back a ghost from that era, who presents her with a posy. Tansy believes she’s brilliant at general knowledge, but when she enters a quiz competition her history knowledge proves deficient and she gets landed with extra history homework. Coincidentally, Gaye does the same thing with Sir Roger, and even forces the poor ghost to wear a dunce’s hat. Suzie Choo brings Chinese themes to the school open day. Alley Cat wants to go fishing but doesn’t want to get caught in the rain. Instead of a raincoat he uses his bin for protection. The results are a bit mixed but work out in the end.

Jinty 12 September 1981

Cover artist: Mario Capaldi

Dracula’s Daughter (artist Mario Capaldi)

Holiday Hideaway (artist Phil Gascoine)

Where the Heart Is (artist Mario Capaldi) – text story

Rosemary for Remembrance (artist Russ Nicholson?) – Gypsy Rose story

Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost (artist Hugh Thornton-Jones)

Man’s Best Friend – Terriers – feature 

Tansy of Jubilee Street (artist Peter Wilkes)

Worlds Apart (artist Guy Peeters)

Winning Ways (writer Benita Brown)

The Sweet and Sour Rivals (artist Carlos Cruz)

Angela’s Angels (artist Leo Davy) – final episode

Alley Cat (artist Rob Lee)

We continue our September theme with a couple of September Jinty issues from 1981.

In hindsight, one senses this issue marks the first signs of Jinty’s wind-down towards the merger. The reason for this is that this week’s penultimate episode of “Dracula’s Daughter” feels like the story’s being brought to a quick conclusion. Only with the previous episode did things take a surprise turn with ultra-disciplinarian Mr Graves deciding to bend his rigid views that fun belongs in the home and not at school, and allow a comedy show in gratitude to the girls. By contrast, Mrs Snape (no relation to Severus Snape but definitely the same breed of teacher) turned against Mr Graves’ daughter Lydia because she mucked up her hopes for deputy principal. Now she’s bullying Lydia big time. Both things had potential to be developed further with more episodes. Perhaps the writer had plans to do so, but the Editor told him/her to finish the story fast, we’ve got to start clearing the decks for the merger. As it is, we’ve barely got into this turn of events, and then things come to a fast head when the girls find a phone booth vandalised. Nasty Mrs Snape blames them for it and drags them to the police station.

In the letter column, one reader asked for “Pam of Pond Hill” and “Gaye’s Gloomy Ghost” to be retired, believing they’d worn thin, and suggested more SF stories. In response, Editor asked readers to share their views and whether they wanted Pam to return (she had ended some issues earlier, with readers invited to ask for her back). The answer must have been a resounding yes, as Pam did return before the merger and then carried on with the merger itself. The Editor had no comment about Gloomy Ghost (its end came in the last issue of Jinty), which incidentally has a metal-detecting theme this week. 

“Angela’s Angels” concludes. The Angels are celebrating because they’ve passed their exams. Of course they know there’s a long way to go yet before they’re qualified nurses, “but it’s so rewarding!”. 

“Holiday Hideaway” shows no sign of a fast conclusion. Or, for that matter, any conclusion to the charade the family goes through in the name of pride: hide in the house because Dad doesn’t want people to know they can’t afford their holiday. And poor Hattie is lumbered with the job of keeping the secret safe from close shaves. This week it’s helping the family avoid being caught while a girl guide does their windows and lawn.

“Worlds Apart” is on its fifth dream world come alive and there is one dream world to go. So there is no ending for this story just yet, but it’s definitely getting there. Brainy Clare seems to have forgotten her humanity in her dream world of intellectualism. She only sees her classmates, who are subhuman “dullards” in this world, as lab rats in her research laboratory. Dullard rights demonstrators have rescued the girls and turned them loose into the wild, but it’s full of dangers and predators. Added to that, Clare is catching up with the girls. But then Clare suddenly finds her heart again when her superiors want to capture the “dullards’” perils all on television and she protests that it’s cruel.

“Tansy of Jubilee Street” carries on as usual. In this week’s story, Tansy becomes a marshal for a cycling rally. But things backfire when she unwittingly starts a rally craze in Jubilee Street.

This week’s Gypsy Rose tale is another recycled Strange Story. Nobody in the family but Susan appreciates Gran’s enthusiasm for herbs. Rosemary is Susan’s favourite. Susan takes some herb cuttings for the family’s new flat, but they don’t seem to flourish as well as they did at Gran’s. Gran appears and gives Susan some advice on reviving them – and then Susan hears Gran just died. Spooky! Not surprisingly, the herbs flourish after that, especially the rosemary.

In “The Sweet and Sour Rivals”, a bullying motorcycle gang causes trouble at the Chinese restaurant. They keep barging in and forcing the establishment to give them free meals. Instead of the police, Suzie Choo brings in a giant panda to drive them off, courtesy of the zoo and her Chinese friend there.

The premise of the text story, “Where the Heart is”, would be used again in Tammy’s “Telling the Bees” in Tammy, 12 November 1983. A Puritan girl finds a wounded Cavalier soldier and hides him while nursing his wounds, and romance begins to bloom.

Alley Cat’s on the back cover, in blue print. Melvyn goofs and brings Alley Cat light bulbs instead of flower bulbs. But when Spotty Muchloot makes trouble, Alley Cat puts the bulbs to good use against him. Meanwhile, Snoopa visits a hall of mirrors – and finds the one showing his normal reflection the most horrible.

Jinty 15 September 1979

Almost Human (artist Terry Aspin)

Bizzie Bet and the Easies (artist Richard Neillands)

Village of Fame (artist Jim Baikie)

Mike and Terry (artist Peter Wilkes)

Gwynne’s Quiz Show

Your Pet Hates – Results

Alley Cat (artist Rob Lee)

Rinty ‘n’ Jinty – cartoon

Combing Her Golden Hair (artist Phil Townsend)

Miss Make-Believe (artist “B. Jackson”) – first episode

Upsy Downsy Mascot – feature 

Pandora’s Box (artist Guy Peeters)

In this issue, Jinty publishes the results of a pet loves and hates competition, and there appears to be more emphasis on the hates. Pet peeves included squeaky chalk, mushy peas, bullies, vandalism, spiders, litter, glib expressions and coat hangers. Some of the replies about pet peeves were put into verse, which was very imaginative.

As we’ve got a pet peeve theme going, let’s look at other peeves in the issue.

In “Pandora’s Box”, everyone, including the headmistress, is peeved with Pandora for jumping queue on the audition for “Alice in Jazzland” when she had no right to even enter it. The girls have turned cold towards her. She uses a spell for “melting hearts of ice” to make them nice to her again. Pandora would have been better to cast that spell on herself; she had little regard for her cat Scruffy being peeved at having to sit on ice blocks and shivering while she cast the spell. Now poor Scruffy has caught a bad chill because of it.

In “Combing Her Golden Hair”, Gran’s peeves are vanity and Tamsin trying to swim. So Gran goes absolutely bonkers when Tasmin tries to swim in the new pool at a classmate’s party. Tamsin’s also suspicious at gran’s claims she isn’t allowed to swim because chlorine’s bad for her asthma, especially as there is no evidence to support this and Gran won’t even allow a doctor to look into it. So Tasmin’s delighted when a new teacher demands medical certification before any pupil can be excused swimming. Now gran’s claims will be put to the test. 

Spotty Muchloot’s pet peeve, as always, is Alley Cat. He goes to extreme lengths to keep Alley Car out of his house and away from his grub while his folks are away, but Alley Cat turns the tables, as usual.

We are informed that “Bizzie Bet and the Easies” will not appear next week. This week, Bizzie Bet and Kate Easie’s peeve is a school bully named Erica and both agree that something’s got to be done about her. They do it themselves – without realising – with Erica constantly getting on the wrong end of their respective Bizzie and Easie ways. Erica emerges bruised, battered, drenched, and given the fright of her life. And after all that, when they see the state Erica’s in, they think someone else has saved them the job of sorting her out. 

In “Miss Make-Believe”, the sequel to “Daughter of Dreams”, shy Sally Carter is peeved that everyone is treating her as courageous when she is not. It was her imaginary friend Pauline, come to life, who was behind it all, by entering Sally for a bravery-testing contest at Playne Towers. The test? A six-month safari. Meanwhile, Pauline discovers the servants are up to no good. Could this be the real test?

In “Village of Fame”, Sue’s peeves are Mr Grand and her inability to prove he’s up to no good in the name of TV ratings. This week, teacher Miss Pebblestone is accused of accidentally starting a fire at school. The evidence looks black against her, though Sue and Mandy suspect Mr Grand faked it, and poor Miss Pebblestone is forced to leave the village. Now Sue’s brother Jason goes missing, and Sue and Mandy suspect Mr Grand engineered it for yet more ratings.

In “Almost Human”, Xenia’s peeve is her alien touch, which is deadly to Earth life, so she can’t touch anything living on Earth. Some gypsies discover Xenia’s secret and are willing to let her stay after she saved them from a poisonous snake. But Xenia goes on the run again because of her alien touch. We are informed a thunderstrom is going to have “extraordinary effects” next week. Will this be good or bad for Xenia?

“Mike and Terry” must be peeved they failed to stop the Shadow again. He’s also after an escaped convict – who turns up in Mike and Terry’s car! The common denominator is a theatre show from 1976: the Shadow is kidnapping everyone involved in it. But why? Let’s hope the escaped convict can shed some light on the matter. 

Mainstay Jinty artist Phil Gascoine takes a holiday this issue, but he’s back next week with “Waves of Fear”. From the looks of the blurb, the protagonist is going to have worse things than peeves; she’s on “the crest of a wave…that was suddenly to smash her life into a thousand, terrifying pieces!”.

Jinty 8 September 1979

Almost Human (artist Terry Aspin)

Village of Fame (artist Jim Baikie)

Bizzie Bet and the Easies (artist Richard Neillands)

Mike and Terry (artist Peter Wilkes)

Gwynne’s Quiz Show

Super fun-time Competition!

Alley Cat (artist Rob Lee)

Horse and Rider Crossword

Combing Her Golden Hair (artist Phil Townsend)

Rinty ‘n’ Jinty

A Girl Called Gulliver (artist Phil Gascoine) – final episode

Pandora’s Box (artist Guy Peeters)

Pining for Something New? – craft feature

We continue our September theme with some September Jinty issues. This one from 8 September 1979 is a competition issue, with five stereo record players up for grabs as the grand prizes.

It’s the final episode of “A Girl Called Gulliver”. The Lilliputians take their leave of Gwenny, saying they’ve found a new home. Sadly, it was a white lie. The Lilliputians have realised the responsibility of looking after them was too heavy for Gwenny, so they will continue wandering on their own. Dad Lilliput is confident they will find a home soon anyway. Its replacement next week is “Miss Make-Believe”, a sequel to “Daughter of Dreams”.

In “Almost Human”, Xenia has fallen in with some friendly gypsy children, but her inability to touch them because her alien touch is deadly to Earth life is causing misunderstandings. Plus, she gets a taste of human prejudice against gypsies. She’s still with the gypsies, trudging onwards and hoping things will get better. 

In “Village of Fame”, Mandy helps her uncle Mr Grand with a trick on Sue Parker, but then he reneges on her, refusing to keep his end of the bargain. Now Mandy wants revenge and turns to Sue, but after that trick Mandy pulled, Sue is in no mood to be any ally with her. Mr Grand also has plans for teacher Miss Pebblestone – and it looks like making sure she’s blamed when the school gets partially burned down. 

Bizzie Bet tries to clean up the Easies’ garden, which the loafers have left to turn into a jungle. But then it has to be left intact after rare flora and fauna are discovered there. The Easies win again.

The trail of the Shadow, a criminal mastermind, has led Mike and Terry to a funfair, where the Shadow has plans to kidnap a trick cyclist named Dirk Dare (now what can he want with a trick cyclist?). Some very amusing hijinks ensue at the fair as Terry and Mike outwit the Shadow’s thugs. To make things even more complicated, Mike and Terry discover Dirk has swapped places with the human cannonball. Now, the Shadow doesn’t know about the switch, so could this lead to his thugs grabbing the wrong man?

Alley Cat’s annoyed to find Spotty Muchloot having a picnic all to himself, but Spotty has come prepared for any food snatching from Alley Cat. In the end, though, it backfires on Spotty and Alley Cat gets Spotty’s grub.

In “Combing Her Golden Hair”, Tamsin is surprised when Gran allows her to go to a party. But Gran won’t allow a party dress (no money, she says). Tamsin has to go in school uniform and still wear her hair in those awful plaits Gran always tells her to wear. Gran’s got a real thing about vanity, but this week she goes too far. She finds Tasmin combing her hair with that strange silver comb and goes so mad she almost cuts Tamsin’s hair off. Tamsin’s friend Ellen steps in to pretty her up for the party, and that strange comb is taking effect again. Now it is tempting Tamsin to go swimming, something her gran has always banned.

In “Pandora’s Box”, Pandora wins the audition for “Alice in Jazzland”, and for once she’s using stuff she’s learned instead of taking shortcuts with that box of witchcraft. But when she plans a surprise party to celebrate, it’s back to the box to get it set up quick and easy.

Tammy 17 September 1983

Namby Pamby (artist Eduardo Feito, writer Ian Mennell)

Bella (artist John Armstrong, writer Primrose Cumming)

Donkey’s Years (artist John Richardson, writer Ian Mennell) – Pony Tale

Take Your Place! (artist Joe Collins, writer Maureen Spurgeon) – Quiz 

Annie’s Cuttings (artist Phil Townsend, writer Jake Adams)

The Crazyees (artist Joe Collins)

Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)

Room for Rosie (artist Santiago Hernandez, writer Alison Christie)

Lonely Ballerina (artist Maria Barrera, writer Jay Over)

Back in Form! (Mari L’Anson) – Feature

We continue our September theme with this “back to school” issue from Tammy. Tammy steps in to cheer up Tammy readers who are trudging back to school after the summer holidays, and brings them a school quiz and (yay!) the return of Pam of Pond Hill.

A new pupil, Megan Morris, joins Pam’s class. Traditionally, new pupils in Pam’s class lead to trouble for her until the resolution of the plot thread. So far this doesn’t seem to be the case with Megan, who helps out when Pam’s gran takes a fall downstairs. However, the accident clinches Pam’s parents’ decision to move to the countryside, which leaves Pam shocked at the thought of being uprooted and leaving Pond Hill.

In “Namby Pamby”, Pam Beeton’s upbringing has been so over-protective that she is dubbed “namby pamby” at school. She is resorting to the old trick of going behind her mother’s back to get some freedom, which has gotten her in trouble. There’s trouble again when the class sneak off to a fair and Pam unwittingly lets it slip to a prefect. Now Pam’s class are out for her blood for sneaking. In the last panel we can see Pam has reached breaking point. Next week’s blurb says Pam’s going to run away (wow, her over-protective mum will probably have a heart attack at that!), which means only one thing: the end of the story is close.

“Lonely Ballerina” has discovered that the woman running the shambolic ballet school is not the ballet teacher but her sister. The teacher has been missing for months and the layabout pupils don’t care; they just take advantage to enjoy themselves. The lonely ballerina is the first to ask serious questions about what’s going on.

“The Button Box” is absent this week, but we get an emotional complete story, “Annie’s Cuttings”, about a ragged old woman named Annie Holmes living in a rundown house. She does nothing but collect old newspapers and has nobody in the world to love her except her cat Moonlight. Next door, Mum is rather intolerant of Annie, but her daughter Tina is more sympathetic and finds a way to help Annie once she discovers her problem: poor Annie was jilted at the altar and the trauma turned her into what she is. 

Bella enters a talent contest to raise funds for her gymnastics club. At her friend Jenny’s suggestion, they pair up to make it a burlesque gymnastics performance. The audience loves it, but is it enough to win? They didn’t bring a single supporter with them.

In the Pony Tale “Donkey’s Years”, Felicity Hewitson thinks the donkey man is mistreating his donkey Ned and steps in. However, it turns out she misconstrued what she saw. The man was being grouchy with Ned but not intentionally cruel, and he really does care for Ned. Incidentally, why is the story labelled a Pony Tale when a donkey is not a pony?

Pauline Wheeler gets an offer for Rosie. But instead of it falling through as usual, she actually turns it down once she realises the potential buyer wants Rosie as part of his antique collection when gran always used her as a workhorse. Rosie has to go to a home where she will make herself useful.

Tammy 4 September 1982

Cover artist: Eduardo Feito

A Horse Called September (artist Eduardo Feito, writer Anne Digby)

Saving Grace (artist Juliana Buch, writer Ian Mennell)

Bella (artist John Armstrong, writer Malcolm Shaw)

The Grand Finale (artist Douglas Perry, writer Maureen Spurgeon) – complete story

Cross on Court (artist Mario Capaldi, writer Gerry Finley-Day)

Pam of Pond Hill (artist Bob Harvey, writer Jay Over)

A Gran for the Gregorys (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie) – final episode

Slave of the Clock (artist Maria Barrera, writer Jay Over)

It’s September, so it feels appropriate to look back at some September issues, I think. And what better to start things off than with a cover that profiles a story with “September” in the title?

Some publications started life as a girls’ serial. Such is the case with “A Horse Called September”, a serial that reunites the creative team from Tammy horse classic, “Olympia Jones”. The serial was originally published in June as a text story, with the spot illustrations drawn by the ever-popular Shirley Bellwood. In the 1980s writer Anne Digby published it as a book, and Tammy adapted the serial as a picture story serial to tie in with the publication. 

In the story, Mary Wilkins and Anna Dewar have always been best friends on Mr Dewar’s farm. But when Mr Dewar gets big ideas about Anna winning a huge riding championship, things turn sour. Mr Dewar is so obsessed with it that he’s driving September the horse too ruthlessly, and now September’s lost his nerve because of it. Moreover, Anna’s been sent to a top riding school, which is changing her for the worse and she’s neglecting her friendship with Mary.

In “Saving Grace”, Sue Blackstone’s friendship with Grace Clark has also soured because Grace changed for the worse while Sue was abroad, and Sue can’t figure out why. Grace has driven a girl to run away with pony Jackson from the school pets club, which faces closure. Now Grace appears to have snaffled Jackson and her classmates are out for blood.

Bella has lost her memory and Jed and Gert are taking advantage. A runaway named Jenny, who is hiding in the Barlows’ shed, has discovered this and she tells Bella the truth. Will this bring Bella’s memory back?

“The Grand Finale” features an egotistical magician whose conjuring is nowhere near as good as he thinks. As a matter of fact, he’s so awful he doesn’t even maintain his props properly and they just fall apart in front of the spectators. Personally, I find the story as lousy as the magician.

Tammy had a number of stories where protagonists have terrible temper trouble. This time it’s Sarah Cross of “Cross on Court”, who blows her top each week, and each time she does she is left with one huge regret over it.

Pam of Pond Hill and her class have been set a challenge – an adventure course in Aberdaffy to prove their self-reliance – and the reward is a new playing field. The latest test – self-catering, is turning into disaster, but this week they turn things around. But the tests are only part of the difficulties. There is also a secret saboteur at work to destroy things because her father wants the same field for development.

It’s the final episode of “A Gran for the Gregorys”. The creative team (Phil Townsend and Alison Christie) already have a long line of emotional stories from Jinty, but this is the first story to credit the team. Ruth and Charlie Gregory are looking for a gran to adopt because the family badly need one. So far every single prospect has fizzled out and things are getting desperate. The only old lady to appear in the episode, Mrs Crabb, is as crabby as her name suggests. Surely she can’t become the gran – or could she?

In “Slave of the Clock”, Madame Margolia has hypnotised Alison Thorne into doing ballet exercises whenever she hears a clock ticking. This is a (misguided) measure to make Alison more dedicated to ballet, and clearly Madame Margolia did not foresee other consequences – like someone abusing the “power of the clock” as she calls it. This is what Alison’s ballet teacher Miss Dempster proceeds to do so she can become private tutor to a wealthy pupil. Miss Dempster vows this is the only time she will “deliberately use the power”. Oh, yeah? We know Miss Dempster has burning ambitions to get one of her pupils into the international ballet school and thinks the power of the clock could be the way to do it.

Tammy 17 June 1978

Cover artist John Richardson

Bella (artist John Armstrong)

Prince of the Wild (artist Veronica Weir)

Betta to Lose (artist Tony Coleman)

Tuck-In with Tammy (feature)

Down to Earth Blairs (artist José Casanovas)

Bessie Bunter

Molly Mills (artist Douglas Perry)

The Weather-Cock – The Strange Story (artist Angeles Felices)

Edie the Ed’s Niece (artist Joe Collins)

Wee Sue (artist Mike White)

Circus of the Damned (artist Diane Gabbot(t))

Edie’s Hobbyhorse – Archery 

It’s Father’s Day where I am, which for some reason is celebrated the first Sunday in September instead of 20 June as it is in Britain. So I have pulled out this Father’s Day issue from Tammy in honour of the occasion. The cover appears to both acknowledge and satirise how adults, including Dads, like to read Tammy and other girls’ comics as much as the girls themselves. 

The Wee Sue story could have used a father theme to celebrate Father’s Day, but the emphasis is more on mothers when Sue and her friends offer to advertise washing powder, with a free supply of a year’s washing powder for their mums in return. Then old Bigger has to interfere, but quick-brained Sue finds a way to turn it to their advantage and make their advertising even better. 

Bella’s new job in Australia has gone badly, especially as Mr Cox, who made the offer, has been trying to back out of it and now says it’s off for good. It doesn’t help that Bella has arrived in a sorry state. Her idea of cleaning herself up is to swim in the sea, clothes and all (really, Bella!). Then the Cox children goad Bella into surfboarding for the first time, which almost gets Bella killed.

In “Prince of the Wild”, Agnes Croft is known for her big imagination, so she is finding hard to get people to believe her when she befriends a wild horse on the moors and names him Prince. We are also introduced to Colonel Powell’s snooty twin daughters, who look like they’re going to be the antagonists of the piece. Agnes finds it very suspicious that the Powell twins are frequenting the moors. Could it have something to do with Prince?

Betta’s latest attempt at self-sabotage (playing with a dud hockey stick) to escape sports slavery at school rebounds on her, and in the end her trick is discovered. The sports mistress has already grown suspicious as it is, so is the game up for Betta? 

In “Down to Earth Blairs”, the Tammy version of “The Good Life”, snooty Mrs Proctor, who is always gunning for the Blairs because she disapproves of their self-sufficient lifestyle, has a flea infestation in her house and blames the Blairs’ animals. However, the animals test negative for fleas when Sanitary Department inspects them, so where did the fleas come from?

The Strange Story features a weather-cock, which “Badger” Browny insists should be left alone when the church committee decide to remove it. He claims it has the power to warn of upcoming accidents by pointing in their direction. Karen, who believes him, follows the direction of the weather-cock, where she discovers a road collapse and saves an oncoming bus from it. After this, the weather-cock is allowed to stay.

It had to happen – Bessie’s so fat she gets stuck in a chair. To make things more awkward, it’s the head’s chair, so if Bessie can’t get unstuck fast, she could be in serious trouble if “Stackers” finds out.

This week’s episode of “Circus of the Damned” focuses on the use – and abuse – of exotic animals in circuses. Their use in the episode comes across as even more distasteful today in an age where using exotic animals in circuses has become un-PC and the move is on to phase it out. Circus owner Yablonski is so obsessed with creating the greatest show on earth that he blackmails his performers into dangerous stunts. This week’s episode shows how the blackmail makes the animals suffer as well. This week they and their trainers actually try to rebel, but Yablonski cracks his whip – literally – to bring them into line. Or has he? At the end of the episode, someone releases the tiger Yablonski mistreated earlier and it’s on the loose. 

The Molly Mills strip has been nothing but crime, fugitives and running from the law ever since arch-enemy Pickering framed Molly for a theft he committed himself. Molly, still on the run from that, has returned to Stanton Hall, now under the ownership of Mrs Powell. But it turns out the money Mrs Powell used to buy the hall came from her half-brother’s bank robbery. He escaped prison and went after her to get the money back. Now he’s caught up and is holding the whole hall hostage to force Mrs Powell to resell the hall to get the money back. Both Molly and maidservant Jodie are trying to smuggle messages for help to the estate agent – without consulting each other. Molly’s worried things could go wrong.

The Gypsy Gymnast (1974–75)

Sample Images

Gypsy Gymnast 1Gypsy Gymnast 2Gypsy Gymnast 3

Published: Tammy 14 December 1974 to 15 March 1975

Episodes: 14

Artist: John Armstrong

Writer: Unknown

Translations/Reprints: None known

Plot

Kim and Ann Rudge are fraternal twin sisters who are a complete contrast: Ann is studious and academically brilliant, while Kim is sporty and a brilliant gymnast. Ann gets jealous of Kim because she thinks Kim’s sportiness is making her the favourite daughter with their parents. She doesn’t listen to her parents assurances that they are just as proud of her. As the story develops, Ann’s increasingly sour attitude because of her jealousy and imagining her parents playing favourites leads to increasing tension in the household and even physical fights with Kim.

Kim is dissatisfied with her gymnastics training because the school coach does not really have the drive to bring out the best in them. Later, Kim and her friends are surprised to see a formidable old woman at Plotter Street Mansion giving a gypsy girl gymnastics training. (The spelling of the woman’s name is not consistent and she is by turn referred to as Mrs Speers, Mrs Spears, Miss Speers and Miss Spears, but we’ll stick to Mrs Speers.) Mrs Speers is a dragon and a hard case coach all right, but she brings out the best more than the school coach. When Mrs Speers sees them spying, she orders her goon Tug to set the dogs on them. Kim finds the whole thing pretty weird, especially as nobody was known to live at that place.

Kim does not realise the gypsy girl was really Ann in disguise. She is taking secret gymnastics lessons to prove herself to her parents and win as much respect as Kim.

As training progresses, Ann learns what a ruthless taskmaster Mrs Speers is. For example, when Ann sprains her ankle while training, Mrs Speers has it treated but shows no sympathy whatsoever and even says she never wants to see her again. But it turns out to be a test of determination and Ann passes it by going back to her to see if she can get lessons again. Mrs Speers also makes a huge deal out of keeping things absolutely secret and takes privacy to extremes of the fierce guard dogs. Ann suspects Mrs Speers has something to hide but does not pursue it.

A competition is coming up and Ann wants to enter so she can beat Kim, but Mrs Speers forbids it, saying Ann’s not ready. This has Ann going home in a huff, which leads to rows with her family and fights with Kim. Back at the mansion, Mrs Speers reveals she planned it that way all along: she is fanning the flames of resentment in Kim as part of her own ambitions.

Next day, Mrs Speers allows Ann to enter the competition after all, but she must win or she’s through with her. Kim’s friends don’t like the way Ann is bundled into Mrs Speers’ car and call the police. A general description alert goes out and Mum is notified, but the police don’t treat it all that seriously.

Ann beats Kim in the competition but is disqualified on a technicality because she has no birth certificate to prove her age, so Kim wins. Ann is puzzled as to why Mrs Speers didn’t think of that herself (more of her tactics, we suspect), but Mrs Speers is true to her word and says she’s through with Ann.

Of course Ann is crushed and disappointed, and this leads to a row in the car when Dad collects them. This gets Dad angry, which nearly results in an accident. Dad blows his top and shouts at Ann over it,  and she runs away in tears to Mrs Speers. Mrs Speers agrees to let her stay over.

Then Ann finds old newspaper clippings and discovers Mrs Speers’ secret: in her youth Mrs Speers was a top gymnast and won medals, but then she started using her gymnastics skills for crime and she has a criminal record. Tug was all part of it too and proud of it. They intend Ann to do the same, and that was what Mrs Speers was training her up for all along. They now hold Ann prisoner in the mansion. Meanwhile, Ann’s family report her missing and soon discover she has been kidnapped somehow.

To get Ann to comply, Mrs Speers and Tug threaten her family, and keep her locked up without food unless she trains. She has to sleep in the day and train by night. Then Ann sees a television broadcast where Ann disowns her in a television interview. She doesn’t realise Mrs Speers forced Kim to do it. As Mrs Speers planned, this embitters Ann, and she is willing to vent her hatred against the world as a willing accomplice for Mrs Speers.

Mrs Speers’ blackmail of Kim continues at a competition where she competes against Ann, who is in the gypsy disguise once more. Kim is forced to duck out and let Ann win. This time Kim does see through the gypsy disguise, but again she is forced to pretend to disown Ann, which further embitters her. Ann begins to tread down a genuine crime mindset of crime and even thinks Mrs Speers genuinely has her interests at heart. She now commits one robbery.

Satisfied Ann is now a willing accomplice, Mrs Speers eases her restrictions and gives her a reward: a beautiful room. But when Ann finds the windows sealed, she realises she is still a prisoner. She begins to have second thoughts about everything, see through Mrs Speers’ tactics, and suspect Kim’s conduct is forced. Sensing this, Mrs Speers blackmails Kim into pulling the same trick again. This time it’s in a face-to-face meeting between Ann and Kim, where Kim is forced to lead Ann to believe she blinded her in that road accident. Ann falls for it although she saw nothing wrong with Kim’s sight on TV or at the gymnastics competition.

It doesn’t quite work out as Mrs Speers planned though – Ann runs back to her in tears all right – but she refuses to have anything to do with her crimes. So Mrs Speers has Tug spirit Kim away to a hidey-hole in the countryside. But the police have been watching them since the robbery and they are soon arrested. Ann is happily reunited with her family and she sets out to become a top gymnast alongside her sister, but this time as herself.

Thoughts

In between the first Bella Barlow story (1974) and the second (1975) was this little-known John Armstrong gymnastics story to show that gymnastics in Tammy wasn’t all about Bella. The letters page was indicating popular demand for the return of Bella, and it could be “The Gypsy Gymnast” was riding on the wave of it. And take a close look at the poster on the left in Kim’s room, in panel 1, page 3, episode 1 (above). Is that Bella Barlow we see in that poster? The resemblance sure is striking. Did John Armstrong sneak her in there? Moreover, when the story finished, it was replaced by Bella herself. Coincidence or what? At any rate, “The Gypsy Gymnast” must have whetted readers’ appetites for more Bella.

The story does have its weaknesses, and among them: First, how exactly Ann met Mrs Speers or started the gypsy disguise is not explained or shown; Ann only says she met Mrs Speers by “sheer chance”. Second, Kim doesn’t even recognise her own sister in that gypsy disguise (until near the end of the story); it seems all Ann has to do is put on the gypsy headscarf while wearing a leotard and not even Kim realises who she’s competing against. Shades of Clark Kent! Third, what name is Ann using as a gypsy if she doesn’t want to be recognised as one of the Rudge sisters? Fourth, in the early episodes Ann wears that gypsy costume while training with Mrs Speers (later she wears a leotard but retains the headscarf). We have to wonder how on earth she can do gymnastics in that skirt. We’re just waiting to see it trip her up on that beam.

On the strengths, we have a very cunning woman who is trying to lure a girl away for her own gain. We have seen this in other stories such as “Jackie’s Two Lives” (Jinty) and “Swimmer Slave of Mrs Squall” (Tammy). In those cases the women were mentally disturbed, while Mrs Speers is a criminal who intends to snare Ann, little by little, until Ann is ready to carry on Mrs Speers’ legacy of crime. But Mrs Speers works in the same way as these mentally ill ladies: taking advantage of problem girls, gradually luring them away and holding them in their homes, using promises that only they can give them what’s lacking in their life, whether it’s riches or respect from their families.

Mrs Speers’ tactics are all the more clever by the fact that just what she is doing with Ann is not all that obvious at first. Only tiny things are allowed to filter through and make us suspicious. For example, it’s pretty weird, the way Mrs Speers keeps herself isolated in the mansion, is so insistent on privacy, keeps those guard dogs, and that Tug looks a real thug. Anyone with sense would keep well away from all that. Little by little, it is revealed Mrs Speers is playing games and tactics with Ann for her own ambitions, but for what purpose? Is it to strengthen Ann as a gymnast or is Mrs Speers up to something?

We certainly don’t like Mrs Speers’ hard training tactics although they are more effective than the school coach. Her methods aren’t as extreme, bizarre or cruel as some coaches in girls’ serials e.g. Tammy’s “The Chain Gang Champions”. But they are still relentless and show little sign of mercy. If Mrs Speers had a heart somewhere under all that hard exterior it could ultimately turn out well in the end. However, the story keeps giving us clear hints that she does not. This can only mean her training methods will ultimately lead to serious consequences for Ann.

When Mrs Speers’ true motives are revealed, it’s not all that easy for Ann to get away from her, and it’s not just the locked rooms. Mrs Speers is keeping Ann close to her psychologically with cunning head games to turn Ann into a criminal. It’s made all the easier by Ann being terrified, confused and mentally vulnerable, and being mistreated makes her even more so. Ann gets several opportunity to escape but she does not take them, which shows how much she is succumbing to Mrs Speers and unable to think straight. We get hints of possible Stockholm Syndrome kicking in as Ann is tricked into turning against her family and the world and genuinely begins to think Mrs Speers is the only one who cares about her. She begins to give way to the dark side, as we see when she enjoys committing the robbery, but then she begins to wise up to Mrs Speers.

The mess Ann gets herself into all begins with her feeling Kim is the favourite with the parents because Kim is sporty but she isn’t. “Favourites” leading to family problems and driving the protagonist to prove herself have appeared in many serials. In this case, though, it looks like Ann is only imagining it. She does not realise that it’s not favouritism that’s making her home life unhappy – it’s her sour, jealous attitude. It is this attitude that leaves her wide open to get into the clutches Mrs Speers. Yet despite herself, Mrs Speers does help to sort out Ann’s problems and start her on the road to top gymnastics.

The story wastes no opportunity to comment on the prejudice and stereotyping against gypsies, which Tammy has done in other serials, such as “Eva’s Evil Eye”. Ann finds the gypsy disguise is making her a target of prejudice. For example, at the competition she was disqualified from, people automatically assume she was disqualified because she was cheating, just because she’s a gypsy. All the more reason to shed that gypsy gear in the end, but Ann must have had a whole new appreciation for how real gypsies must suffer from discrimination after this.

All Eyes on 3e (1974–75)

Sample Images

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Published: Tammy 14 December 1974 to 15 March 1975

Episodes: 14

Artist: Mario Capaldi

Writer: Unknown

Translations/Reprints: None known

Plot

Form 3E of Stopes School are always finding ways to get out of classwork with the screwy schemes of their ringleader Mary White, a lazy girl who only works hard at dodging schoolwork. Vicky Field, the class swot, is always annoyed at Mary for this because she wants to make the most of her education. But Mary’s and her gang are just too slick to get caught. Moreover, their teacher, Miss Times, is just not sharp enough to realise the tricks they’re pulling. For example, she does not even realise essays are being copied or the reason the break-time bell rings a bit early is because there is an alarm clock in Mary’s desk.

Muriel Monitor, a famous TV personality, wants to do a real-life series and the subject will be a classroom. Form 3E is picked for the series, but this means they will have to work with those cameras on them and their work-dodging is threatened with exposure. So in addition to dodging schoolwork, Mary constantly comes up with ways to hinder the filming. The stage is set for comedy-drama every week where the girls set to outsmart Muriel and dodge classwork. For example, they sabotage the sprinkler system to make Muriel’s filming a washout.

Vicky informs Muriel about what’s going on. Now Muriel becomes hell-bent on exposing Mary and her schemes and letting the school know what a lazy, work-dodging underachiever she is. But Mary and her gang keep thwarting that as well and prove more than a match for Muriel. Eventually they succeed in getting rid of Muriel altogether and think they can go back to happily dodging schoolwork. Vicky, who was tricked into helping with their scheme to remove Muriel, is furious.

Then, a month later, Muriel gets her revenge. She makes an educational for teachers about classroom work-dodging tactics with the data she collected on 3E and sends it to the school. When Miss Times sees it, she finally wakes up to the classwork-dodging schemes (copied essays, the alarm clock, etc) and now she’s going to keep a beady eye on them all. Party’s over for 3E and now they have to get used to doing classwork. Muriel has finally beaten Mary and gets the last laugh, and Vicky’s all smiles.

Thoughts

Protagonists who always come up with screwy schemes to dodge classwork are nothing new. Jinty took it to a more serious level in “Prisoner of the Bell”, where Granny used hypnotism to break her granddaughter’s school skiving, but things got out of hand. In the 1980s, School Fun/Buster had “Young Arfur”, a weekly funny where Arfur can always be counted on for a crafty plan to help you escape teacher’s wrath if you haven’t done your homework or forgot to revise for a test. But in this case it is done as a humour serial and a weekly battle of wills with plenty of drama to go with the comedy. There certainly is no shortage of drama because Muriel has such a strong personality and Mary a quick brain. If Mary used her brain the right way, she could be one of the best pupils in the class and have a brilliant career ahead of her.

When you think about it, the girls are foolish. Any other class would jump at the chance to be on television, but not Mary White. And just because she doesn’t want to work in class with those cameras on her. She encourages the rest of the girls (except Vicky) to get behind her on getting rid of the cameras when they could all have this wonderful television opportunity. Instead, they are throwing it all away.

You can’t really dislike Muriel though the story implies she has made her share of enemies. She has a colourful, flamboyant personality and she has dashes of humour. You do feel for Muriel as her frustration grows because the girls’ tricks keep wasting miles and miles of footage, which must be costing her lots of money. We are glad to see Muriel eventually win after weeks of constantly losing. Mary is finally obliged to knuckle down and work in class, which makes the ending far more satisfying than the one in “Prisoner of the Bell”, where the school skiving did not change in the end.

Slaves of the Hot Stove (1975)

Sample Images

Slaves of the Hot Stove 1aSlaves of the Hot Stove 1b

Published: Tammy 22 March to 14 June 1975

Episodes: 13

Artist: Douglas Perry

Writer: Gerry Finley-Day?

Translations/Reprints: None known

Plot

Madam Mange runs “The Hot Stove”, a brand-new and most exclusive restaurant in town. But the cooking is not done in the kitchens the customers see – it’s done in a secret kitchen below, which runs on slave labour. Madam Mange has been kidnapping top cooks (their disappearances have made big news) and makes them slave in the secret kitchen. The slaves also have to do all the cleaning in the restaurant. Madam goes as far as to make them dress in dirty rags (how hygienic) while they work and keeps them chained to the stove – literally. The food is sent up by dumb waiter shaft and Madam communicates with the slaves via stovepipe. When she appears in person, it is through the ventilator shaft. The guards are dumb waiters. In fact, they’re so dumb they don’t speak a word, and they don’t appear to be all that high on the brains department either. But they are frightening because they have the hulks and faces of gorillas – and at times, the temperament of gorillas.

The slaves are all resigned to their fate and believe it is hopeless to escape. Madam is also very cunning at playing head games with them. One is to play on their snobbish pride at being top cooks, such as putting them to such lowly work as floor cleaners that they are only too happy to be in the kitchen. On another occasion she saddles them with a cooking task she sells as “exciting news that offers a challenge to your skills”.

Madam Mange sets out to kidnap a schoolgirl, Carole Cook, who’s the most brilliant in her cookery class, and lures her in by special invitation. But the invitation mistakenly goes to another girl in the class who has almost the same name – Carol Cook. As a result, Madame unwittingly kidnaps the worst pupil in the cookery class. The nearest Carol can manage at serving restaurant-quality dishes is prepping chips in the family chippie. Carol decides not to tell either Madam or the slaves about the mistake, and just muddle through somehow while trying to figure out an escape before Madam finds out.

The police are sent to the restaurant to investigate Carol’s disappearance but don’t do much because Madam distracts them with delicious restaurant food. Carol hears all this through the stovepipe. Later, the slaves are sent out to buy food at the market but are kept attached to Madam with nylon strings. The policeman reappears and Carol recognises his voice. Madam gives him a special invitation to the restaurant. Carol manages to slip a secret message on it written in lemon juice. But nothing more is heard about it in the story, so it must have failed.

Carol can’t do more in the kitchen except chip spuds. She tries to hide it from Madam, but she can only get away with it for so long. Meanwhile, she gets to work on an escape through the ventilator shaft by removing one of the bars and uses a sausage to disguise it. But at the other end, the restaurant floor itself, she finds glass so thick she can’t break through or shout for help through it.

Another slave, Shirley Sands, collapses because she is a diabetic and needs sugar. Carol gives her the sugar she was planning to use for the escape. In return, Shirley covers for Carol’s lack of cookery skills. She also saves Carol’s life when Carol tries the old dustbin escape, not realising the bins were bound for the incinerator.

Now Carol and Shirley work together on the ventilator shaft escape. They break through the glass with an eggbeater and make a run for it. Carol is recaptured and Shirley gets away, but later Madam shows Carol a newspaper report saying Shirley has been found with amnesia. The amnesia was caused by drugged food Madam had sent to the slaves. This means Shirley can’t raise help.

Madam discovers the other slaves have eaten the same drugged food, which has turned them into glazed-eyed zombies who can’t remember a thing – and that includes how to cook. Carol, who is a hopeless cook, now has to cook a big lunch for a local business meeting single-handed, with only the dumb waiters to help her. Carol turns to the only thing she knows: fish and chips. Madam is mortified at this, but fortunately the businessmen are the type to enjoy it, so it’s a success. Later, Madam brings the other slaves back to normal with an antidote.

During the cooking, Carol saves a dumb waiter from being badly burned. Later, he slips something into her oven glove. He doesn’t even report her when he sees her in the ventilation shaft (which has not been sealed off although they replaced the glass at the other end). The note the waiter left informs Carol that a local health inspector is going to pay a visit. So her next plan is to make things look wrong health-wise at the restaurant and bring down a huge inspection that will surely find them.

On the night the inspector visits, Madam makes Carol work as waitress and has her teeth stuck together with special truffles so Carol can’t speak. The health inspector leaves satisfied, apart from the fake mouse Carol tried to pull. But the other slaves almost suffocate because the lift got blocked. Carol hopes that this will make them rally more with her in an escape.

One slave, Monique, helps Carol do just that when a wedding reception is held at The Hot Stove. She makes the wedding cake large enough to hide Carol in it and smuggle her out. This time, Carol succeeds in escaping.

Unfortunately, the police are finding Carol’s story hard to believe, and by the time she arrives back at The Hot Stove with them, the place is in flames. Carol believes Madam did it to destroy the evidence, and there is no trace of her or the slaves.

Carol goes back to her normal life, but nobody seems to believe her. She visits Shirley in hospital, who is still a glass-eyed zombie from the drug, and only Madam has the antidote.

Then Madam’s goons, disguised as onion johnnies, start tailing Carol. She tries to run, but Shirley’s father, Colonel Sands of Kentooky Chicken (yes, we can see what inspired that one) shows up. He believes Carol’s story and asks her to let herself be recaptured, as he has a plan to capture Madam Mange. So Carol lets the heavies take her.

Madam’s new hideout is “The Cooks Cauldron”. It’s in the back of beyond and the slaves are being held in a deep pothole. At least it’s not for long, as Madam soon returns to her old haunt. The secret kitchen was left unscathed by the fire (and not found by the police for some reason), so the slaves are back to the old slavery in a pop-up Hot Stove rising from the ashes of the old one.

Madam is all excited about an upcoming national cooking contest in the paper. However, one look at the paper and Carol realises the contest is Colonel Sands’ plot to trap Madam, and she informs the other slaves of this. They give Carol a crash course in cookery to make sure she is chosen for the contest, which finally has Carol turning out decent cookery. She is chosen. At the stadium, Carol smuggles a note to Colonel Sands that all the gang from The Hot Stove are here.

Then Carol discovers that Madam has smelt a rat. If anything happens, she will seal the place up and it will explode like a pressure cooker. And Carol can see the police closing in. She starts a pie fight as a distraction.

Madam whisks Carol and the trophy away (without winning it) to her new hot stove prison: a restaurant boat, with which she proceeds to make her getaway, slaves and all, to start all over again.

Carol uses the self-raising flour in the hold to create a giant Yorkshire pudding. It’s growing into the size of a house and will swamp the boat unless it’s burst. However, Carol has the only thing that can puncture it, and she’s not handing it over until Madam releases them and gives them the antidote for Shirley.

Madam gives in to Carol’s demands and leaves them ashore with the antidote. But she still gets away, along with her stolen trophy, and is already cooking up new schemes “to prove her greatness…the world would hear from Madam Mange again!” Or maybe not, as she never reappeared in Tammy. If a sequel with her was planned, it didn’t eventuate.

Thoughts

There have been many “slave stories” with bizarre concepts, but this one could well be the one to top them all. Nowhere is it more bizarre than the giant Yorkshire pudding escape at the conclusion. Many readers must have found this…well, let’s say…controversial. Or maybe they just burst out laughing. As it is, it’s something only the funnies can get away with, and we’re move on.

The story doesn’t go for sadistic tortures piled on thick and over the top as some slave stories do e.g. Tammy’s “Slaves of ‘War Orphan Farm’”. Nor does Madam go for horrible punishments for Carol because of her constant escape attempts. She doesn’t do much more than throw Carol back into the kitchen. It’s probably because she thinks Carol is of value to her as a top cook, which is all the more reason for Carol to keep her from discovering the truth. All the same, the story is pushing things towards going over the top with keeping the slaves in actual rags and chains, and these great ape dumb waiters who don’t speak a word and look more like bouncers.

Madam’s motive for it all seems to be feeding her ego and making herself the biggest name in the culinary world. Even while she is forced to release the slaves she isn’t dwelling on it; as she makes her getaway, her mind’s already cooking up new ideas for proving her greatness. Not even the trophy (which she didn’t win by right) is enough for her. Her arrogance is so great she doesn’t even seem to be bothered by the long arm of the law catching up to her once her freed slaves get back to the police and Colonel Sands turns everything upside-down to find her. Plus, she gets the bonus of saving money with her racket, as she gets everything cheap by using slaves instead of proper staff, not just for the cooking but also all the cleaning of the restaurant and, at times, the waitressing. Only the dumb waiter goons are the hired help.

Madam Mange gets away with a lot because once Carol escapes, the police just don’t believe it, nor does anyone else except Colonel Sands. Furthermore, the police don’t really put their backs into finding Carol when they first show up at the restaurant to investigate. Nor do they do a proper search of the burned-out ruins, which would surely have turned up the secret kitchen, as the story later establishes it is still intact. Not even Carol’s parents seem to listen and don’t seriously ask Carol where she’s been once she returns. Where the heck do they think she’s been – Hell’s Kitchen or something? Ultimately, Madam gets away with it altogether as she sails off into the sunset on her boat. No arrest, prison term or public exposure for Madam Mange. We can only hope the law will ultimately catch up with her.

Like many protagonists in slave stories, Carol is the only one putting her back into trying to escape and not giving up. The other slaves are pretty much resigned to it, and Madam’s head games help to keep them that way. Carol is more immune because, ironically, she isn’t a brilliant chef like them. Ultimately, she progressively succeeds in getting them to help with escaping, but we never see any outright rebellion.

As with other slave stories, we get a string of failed escapes before the successful one occurs. However, the story is unusual in which it has the successful escape come earlier than the climax of the story – only to have it become a failure in its own way because people just don’t listen. Carol is not truly free because she still has the shadow of The Hot Stove hanging over her and knows that Madam is still out there somewhere with the slaves. The story takes a more unusual take in which the protagonist not only gets recaptured but has to agree to it as well because it’s part of a plan to catch Madam. It is here that we get to the climax of the story.

There is wackiness and curious humour in the way the whole thing revolves around food: the slavery; the methods used to keep the slaves in line; the trap for Madam Mange; and all the means used for escape. Maybe it’s one reason why the story is on the whole engaging and enjoyable, and it seemed to be popular. Or maybe it’s all that punning over “being a slave to your stove”, “slaving over a hot stove”, “kitchen slave”, and “chained your stove”. Perhaps someone on the Tammy team was feeling sympathetic about real-life people who felt that way or was inspired by them.

In any case, the story certainly made one such person feel differently. On 12 April 1975 a reader wrote in to thank Tammy for the story, saying, “My mum used to go on and on about how she’s chained to her stove and started to make me feel guilty every time she cooked something. When she read your story she changed her mind – now she can’t do enough cooking” – only to start nagging about where’s the next issue of Tammy so she can read what happens next.