Artist: Phil Gascoine
Some stories were run on the flimsiest of plots and utterly ludicrous premises. They could either have you laughing out loud and throw the comic at the wall, or have you laughing but you follow the story anyway because you do like it, in an odd, engaging sort of way. Such could well be the case with Holiday Hideway, where Mr Jones hides himself and his family in the house and pretend they all are on holiday – all because he does not want everyone to know that they cannot afford the real thing because his business has suddenly failed.
Yes, hide the entire family in the house, living on tinned food, suffer emotional and psychological stress from being constantly stuck inside in hiding, and still keep up the deception of the holiday with fake holiday shots, postcards and such – all for the entire duration of a supposed luxury cruise over the entire summer holiday. And all just to save Mr Jones’ pride.
Now how on earth can you pull that off? Most of it is due to Hattie, the daughter. She alone does not like the deception and thinks her parents are being silly. She does not like being stuck inside all the time either as she is an extroverted outdoor type who wants to be with her friends. But she goes along with it out of loyalty to her family. And it is thanks to Hattie’s quick wits and gymnastics skills that the secret stays safe during the inevitable sticky moments where they are in danger of being found out. Without Hattie, the Joneses would quickly have been found out, as her brother Nicky is too young, her sister Dora is too indulgent and does nothing but sit under the sunlamp, and the parents do need serious help to keep it all up. We see Hattie putting on camouflage gear, turning Red Indian, and even have her family pretend the house is haunted (when they are being burgled) and other amusing and thrilling tactics to keep the secret safe. This is perhaps why the story can be so engaging even though its premise seems extremely…improbable? Or perhaps we are just following it to see how Mr Jones gets what is coming to him. He is being dishonest, after all.
And of course Mr Jones gets it in the end. When the Joneses “come home” and their friends come for the welcome home reception, the parents are all bragging about their “holiday” while Hattie, who has never approved of the charade, is ashamed at all the lies they are telling. Then along comes the paper to say their ship has been in dry dock the whole time! Well, you are never allowed to get away with deceit in girls’ comics.
But you might be forgiven if you redeem yourself, which is precisely what happens next. Sudden flash flooding traps everyone in the house (I think I see echoes of another Jinty serial, Fran of the Floods here). The Joneses’ house alone is equipped to deal with it because of all the stockpiles from the Joneses’ fake holiday. So by the time the flooding subsides, everything is forgiven and Mr Jones is now sorry for his deception. Then they find it was all for nothing (it would be) because Mr Jones’ business is fine now. They can afford a holiday after all – oh, no, says, Hattie, it’s time to get back to work and school! They’ve had their holiday! And after this so-called holiday, Hattie is actually quite relieved to go back to school.