Published: Jinty 8 March 1980 – 21/28 June 1980 (no episodes 17 May to 7 June due to strike)
Artist: Andrew Wilson
Translations/reprints: None known
Trisha is hot stuff on a bicycle. Though not a downright hooligan on wheels, she is a reckless, carefree daredevil with no sense of safety or responsibility. People say the little pest is headed for trouble, and it happens when Trisha is not paying full attention on the road because of her goofing off. She fails to notice a greasy patch on the road and goes into a skid, which causes a car to plough right into a lamp post. This puts a girl named Fran Hayward in hospital with serious facial injuries.
Everyone is blaming Fran for it and giving her a hard time, notwithstanding the oil patch, none of the passengers in the car wearing seat belts, the site of the accident having a reputation as a “black spot”, and Fran’s mother admitting it was partly her fault too. (The episode is posted above for your own judgement about the accident.)
Trisha feels guilty and responsible when she sees the state Fran is in. Mrs Hayward says money is needed for Fran to have plastic surgery but she does not have the money.
Meanwhile, Trisha wangles her way to see a stunt cycling act by helping the performers. Then, when one of the performers lets her fellow performers down, they ask Fran to take her place. This proves successful, though the manager is not impressed when he finds out. Ultimately, it is inspiration for Fran to put on three cycling shows to raise the money for Fran’s operation and the newspaper is taking up the story.
However, Trisha keeps having brushes with the law, and her latest one almost cancels the deal with the press. The editor only agrees to continue with Trisha if she will have cycling lessons and get a proficiency certificate. This is most demeaning for Trisha. It is even more so when they find her bicycle is not safe (damaged from the accident and Trish has to do self-repairs, which make for a banged-up bike). The editor has to loan her one. What’s more, she’s making mistakes with her cycling that need to be corrected. But she is forced to continue because it will keep the peace with Mrs Hayward and she’s got to convince people that she’s changed. To add to her problems, some toughs play tricks on her. As a result, she ends up in an icky river and the editor is not pleased to see the state of the bike he loaned her.
Trisha finally manages to stage her first show and it goes well. But Fran, who is having constant hysterics over the state of her face, people staring at her, and terrified of the operation, runs off. Trisha manages to find her, but the incident has Trisha so shaken up that she bungles the second show and it’s a failure.
When Fran reads about this in the paper, she snaps out of her selfishness as she realises what Trisha is going through to help her. A nurse informs Fran that she’s heard some toughs intend to come to the third show and throw rotten fruit at Trisha, and Fran alerts Trisha. Trisha turns this to her advantage by turning the whole thing into an Aunt Sally on Wheels show, with each hit raising £1 for the fund, and Trisha’s stunts ensuring some missiles miss. Everyone thinks the show’s a riot and it’s a financial success. There is now enough money for the operation, and Fran, inspired by Trisha’s courage, finds her own courage to go through with the operation.
The newspaper bike goes to raffle to raise money for Fran to go on holiday. When she comes back, she realises how silly her hysterics were – nobody is staring at her. She and Trisha become friends. Trisha is now more responsible about biking, but she is still keen on it and can’t wait for her bike to come back from the repair shop.
This is Jinty’s second (and last) story about cycling, the first being “Curtain of Silence”. Like Curtain of Silence, it is a redemption story about a thoughtless cyclist who needs to change her ways. But unlike Curtain of Silence, it is not about the sports side of cycling. Instead, it is the stunt and fun side of cycling.
This is definitely a strong story about responsibility, especially on the road. When you think you know it all, you find there are still some things you need to know to improve your road safety and there are road safety courses you can take a lot of things away from. Jinty readers must have emerged from this one thinking hard about how much more responsible they could be about cycling. In fact, the first episode adds this caption: “Don’t be like Trisha! Always cycle safely, with care and attention.”
Trisha is definitely one of the most ballsy, gutsy protagonists in Jinty. Although she gets depressed several times she never quits and she always bounces back. We all love her instantly because she’s no Pollyanna, and the artwork of Andrew Wilson (best remembered for “The Happy Days”) really brings off her irrepressible character.
Though not a bad person at heart, Trisha is clearly irresponsible and we know she is set for a long road to redemption about learning responsibility. However, she’s not wallowing in self-blame as many protagonists do in girls’ comics, which is refreshing. Initially she resists the idea that she is to blame, as there were other factors involved in the accident as well. It takes the shock of seeing Fran to make Trisha realise she must take some responsibility for it and she becomes more sober. It really is to Mrs Hayward’s credit that she is taking some of the blame as well and is not holding any grudges against Trisha or turning bitter towards her (unlike some parents in girls’ comics, such as Mrs Mitchell in Jinty’s “Waves of Fear”).
Trisha being an inspiration to Fran is a brilliant plot twist. At the hospital, Fran falls into the trap of self-pity, refusing to be helped, having hysterics etc, etc. We see this a lot in girls’ comics and can only wait and see what snaps the girl out of it. It is a delight to see it is the courage of the very girl who was partly to blame for her condition.
The most exciting parts of the story have to be Trisha’s bike stunts themselves. They are thrilling to watch and the highlight is definitely the Aunt Sally on Wheels. There can be little doubt Trisha will follow in the footsteps of the cycling performers and have a career in her own cycling shows. They also help to keep the story more lightweight and humorous, so the story, though a redemption and guilt complex story, is not overly dark or emotional.