Cover artist: John Richardson
Bella at the Bar – artist John Armstrong
Glenda’s Glossy Pages – artist Mario Capaldi, writer Pat Mills
Wee Sue – artist John Richardson
Backhand Billie – artist unknown
Molly Mills: A Cure for Claire – artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon
Wheeler Delia – artist unknown
Have a Heart! – Competition
The Greatest Gift (Strange Story) – artist Douglas Perry
Serfs of the Swamps – artist Douglas Perry
Although this is a September issue, I am bringing it out for Christmas because the Strange Story has a dash of Christmas in it. The story sure is a warning not to take generosity – something to show more of at Christmas – to extremes or come before things that should take priority, like paying the bills. Some of you may wonder if the grandfather deserved the Strange Story rescue, even if he did seem to learn his lesson, and if something up there is going, “All right, this once, but if it happens again…” After all, Dickens frequently commented on the consequences and misery of debt in his stories, and “A Christmas Carol” itself was written to pay off debt. Well, judge for yourselves.
Douglas Perry is drawing this Strange Story while also drawing a serial, “Serfs of the Swamps”. The locals of a hamlet seem to be making Lynn Wake and her marooned classmates work like serfs – and now they are forced to dress like serfs too, in dreadful sack cloth garments. One rather gets the impression these people are out to use the girls as slave labour.
Talking of serfs, Bella is, is usual, being underfed while forced to work like a serf for Aunt Gert and Uncle Jed, who show no mercy for the back injury Bella is trying to recover from. The lack of food makes Bella black out while she’s doing swimming therapy, and because she’s in the water, that’s now put her in terrible danger.
Assistant manager Mrs Mallis isn’t making “Wheeler Delia” work like a serf at the rollerdrome where she works although she dislikes her. Instead, she’s gotten Delia sacked, and when Delia is reinstated she reports Delia to the orphanage for breaking bounds. This prompts Delia to run away from the orphanage and take refuge at the pier, but someone has caught her. And it looks like…guess.
Bessie is always coming up with screwy schemes to get out of schoolwork and exams because she hopeless at schoolwork. This week she pretends her eyesight is ailing. Predictably, food being the sight to behold for Bessie is her undoing and soon everyone “sees” through her.
An Indian doctor claims to have the power to make Mistress Claire walk again – but the moment Claire starts walking, Molly suddenly loses the power of her own legs. Now she’s the one in the wheelchair and Mistress Claire is wheeling her around. What a turnabout! What’s going on? A legal rep believes this weird doctor is behind it and offers to help Molly sue for damages. Lord Stanton’s response is to sack Molly. At least there’s a bright side to this episode: Pickering gets a bite on the nose from a parrot!
Backhand Billie wants to become a top tennis player under her own steam and not because she’s the daughter of a tennis star. Okay, but she has been going about it the wrong way: John McEnroe tactics, nasty tricks, and not being a good loser. She’s now having second thoughts about this, but the damage she’s done is not easy to reverse and she still doesn’t like losing. Miss Ball the academy head now offers to help, with CCTV post mortems of Billie’s playing, but how ready is Billie to take things on board?
Wee Sue goes to a mini-market for cheap sports gear, only to discover the reason it’s so cheap is that the man is a crook who cheats customers with rubbish goods. Ever heard of caveat emptor, Sue? Or if it is too good to be true, it usually is? And get a load of the name of the crook’s mini-market: “Honest Pat Mills’ Mini-Market”! Wonder what Pat Mills thought of the in-joke.
Glenda is now convinced the glossy pages really can work magic after she gets a flash bicycle out of them and her snooty arch-enemy Hillary is seething. But then Mum starts a fire in the fireplace where Glenda has hidden the glossy pages – and all of a sudden the bicycle catches fire. Yikes, what other magic is at work here? Is it that old adage, if it is too good to be true it usually is again?