Published: Tammy 13 August 1983 to 7 January 1984 (no episodes 12 November to 17 December 1983)
Artist: Santiago Hernandez
Writer: Alison Christie
Translations/reprints: none known
It is the Christmas season. This story from Tammy has been chosen to honour the Christmas theme because its last three episodes were especially themed to tie in with Tammy’s (last, as it turned out) Christmas and New Year issues. Accordingly, the story was put on hiatus to return at Christmas.
As discussed below, this story is also related to Jinty history.
Everywhere Gran Wheeler goes, so does her beloved pram Rosie (from the roses painted on her sides). Rosie is a tough old boneshaker with a voluminous capacity, both of which have enabled her to work tirelessly at helping people in an assortment of ways as well as being perambulator to a few generations of Wheelers. Gran takes great pride at Rosie being such a toughie and made to last, and not at all like the flimsy contraptions that pass off as modern prams. Gran and Rosie have even won a community award for the work they have done in helping people.
On her deathbed, Gran has her granddaughter Pauline promise to find someone with “room for Rosie” and not let her end up on the scrap heap. Pauline, who cares as much about Rosie as Gran does, earnestly promises to do so.
But there is one big problem. The Wheeler house is too small for Rosie and she is taking up all the space in the hallway. This is a real nuisance for the rest of the family. They are always falling over Rosie (hitting shins, ruining pantyhose etc). They are putting up with it because Pauline was so insistent; she carted Rosie home in pouring rain to the house after they left her outside gran’s house for the dustmen. But there are limits to their patience. If that patience runs out, it’s the scrap yard for Rosie. And because of lack of space in the Wheeler house, there can be no future generations of Wheelers being taken for walks in Rosie. Rosie has to pass out of the family with this generation. So the quest to find someone with room for Rosie is pressing as she is on borrowed time in the Wheeler household.
Now, you’d think Pauline would put advertise for a home for Rosie in the paper, put Rosie in a garage sale, or sell her to a second hand shop or something. But this being a girls’ serial that has to be spun out, Pauline never does any of those things. Instead, it’s a story of the week format where each week Rosie continues to be put to 101 uses as a tireless workhorse with heaps of space and helping people in an assortment of ways. By turns we see Rosie being used as the Princess’ cot in the school Sleeping Beauty panto, being taken on the run by a girl who can’t stand her parents arguing anymore, and catching loot that a crook throws from a window. As shown above, she is even Santa’s helper at one point. Santa with a pram sure makes a change from his sleigh, doesn’t it? Rosie is accumulating quite a fan club out of the people she helps.
However, not everyone appreciates how useful or durable Rosie is. In several episodes Rosie draws a lot a teasing and snide remarks as to what a piece of scrap she is and is fit for the junk heap. In one episode Rosie is pitted against modern prams in a pram race where Pauline is dressed as a baby. The boy pushing her has been deploring Rosie as he thinks she’s just a piece of scrap that wouldn’t last five minutes in the race. But Rosie is soon proving what stern stuff she is made of compared to modern prams, which are soon dropping out like flies. They win hands down thanks to Rosie and Pauline’s partner is taking back what he said about her.
Pauline hopes to find a home for her out of all the people Rosie helps, but they can’t or won’t for some reason or other. Or sometimes fate intervenes to block Rosie from a new home.
When Christmas approaches, finding a home for Rosie becomes even more pressing because Dad says they’re giving Pauline’s brother Ben a bike for Christmas, and the only place to keep it is the hallway. But there is no room for both the bike and a pram the size of Rosie in that hallway. She really has to go now, even if it is to the scrapyard.
Come New Year’s Day, there is still no new home for Rosie. Happy New Year indeed for Pauline; she’s so upset that she’s failed Gran and can’t bear the thought of Rosie at the scrapyard. And that’s where Rosie will go after the family’s trip to the funfair. But it’s no fun at all at the fair for Pauline, of course.
Then Pauline realises that the fair could have room for Rosie – on their carousel. The fairground people are only too happy to take Rosie on board for it and say she will be extremely popular. Sure enough, there is a queue lining up for a ride in Rosie the moment she is put into place on the carousel. So it’s a Happy New Year’s Day after all for Pauline and Rosie.
This is not the first time Alison Christie wrote a heartwarming story about a pram that’s a tough old boneshaker and can be put to 101 uses. There was a predecessor, Old Peg, which appeared in Christie’s 1976 Jinty story, “For Peter’s Sake!” We strongly suspect Rosie and Old Peg were inspired by a real pram somewhere in Christie’s childhood.
As with Rosie, Old Peg is a real workhorse and famous in the locality for community work. Both prams are owned by grandmothers. They bequeath them to their granddaughters upon their deathbeds and charge them with a special mission for it. In Pauline’s case it is find a home for the pram. In the Jinty story it is take the pram to a sick baby brother, Peter, who needs it for his recovery. Towards the end it looks as if the granddaughters have failed in those missions despite all their efforts, and they are heartbroken. But an unexpected turn of events at the last minute changes everything and ensures a happy ending.
Old Peg differs from Rosie in that people believe her to have supernatural powers. Any sick baby that is rocked in her will be cured. Rosie has no claim to have any supernatural powers, though at times she gives the impression she is alive somehow. Curiously, a lot of people call her a “magic pram” for no apparent reason. Maybe she does have a power somewhere after all?
Room for Rosie also follows a similar pattern to “The Button Box”, in using a “story of the week” format. As with the buttons in the box, this accumulates a great deal of stories behind Rosie. This is not surprising as Christie wrote both of them and both were running at the same time. But in the case of Rosie there is always that underlying urgency in finding a home for Rosie and disappointment in how each time a new lead fails to pan out. It’s not a mere “story of the week” as The Button Box is. The urgency is carried right even through Pauline’s Christmas for a luck last-minute turnaround to keep up the suspense and drama right up to the last page of the final episode.