Tag Archives: hospital

Tale of the Panto Cat (1979)

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Panto Cat 1.jpg

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Panto Cat 2.jpg

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Panto Cat 3.jpg

Publication: 8 December 1979 – 29 December 1979

Artist: “B Jackson”

Writer: Unknown

Summary

In Daisy Green Youth Club, Verna is known as “the original panto cat”. She is conceited, bossy, domineering and self-centred. She walks over everyone to have everything her way.

The club members are discussing what to do for their Christmas special when Verna barrels in, tears up their suggestions and pushes ahead with her own – a pantomime for the kids who will be confined to Farley Hospital over the Christmas season. But Verna doesn’t stop there. She allows no discussion of what the pantomime will be – it must be Cinderella. Before the meeting is over, she casts everyone in the roles as she sees fit. And of course she casts herself as Cinderella. Gwen is feeling very indignant at the way Verna carries on.

But there is worse to come when Gwen finds Verna is writing the panto as well. She is astonished to find the script Verna gave her is only two pages long and the lines are awful. The same goes for everyone else, and they find out why at the next meeting – Verna’s part is three times as big as theirs! They reach their limit at this and shelve Verna’s script in favour of one in the club library. But they still give Verna a chance to be Cinderella if she is good. But of course the panto cat is anything but good, and in the end she finds herself without any role (not even as wicked stepmother, the only role that really suits her personality).

Gwen says they still have to let Verna be director, but that proves to be a bad mistake. Now the panto cat has lost the limelight she turns vicious. She gets her claws out and sets out to wreck the panto now she cannot be in it. As director, she tries to stir everything up, make everyone’s life a misery, and even smash the pumpkin. All this does is get her removed from the panto altogether.

Another club member, Minna, suggests they have Verna’s father make Cinderella’s coach. Gwen says they should keep Verna out, but Minna feels it is rotten to do so because it is Christmas. This is another bad mistake. Verna sabotages the coach so it will fall apart on the night. Instead it falls apart at a rehearsal, leaving Cinderella with a sprained ankle, Prince Charming with a black eye and the Fairy Godmother with an injured leg. It looks like the show is off and the panto cat has got the cream.

But then Gwen has a brainwave – convert a piece of the coach into a puppet theatre and have a puppet Cinderella show instead. Unfortunately, Minna tells Verna about how they have salvaged the disaster, thinking she is acting in the spirit of Christmas. So the cat gets ready to pounce again. On the night of the show, Verna tries to sabotage them at the club as they make preparations to set off. She fails, and her tricks put Gwen on her guard.

At the hospital, Gwen sends Verna on an errand to get her out of the way. Verna spots a jug of water in a ward and goes in for it, planning to spill it on the puppets and make them too wet to use. But she failed to spot a warning notice on the door saying there is a child with scarlet fever quarantined in the ward. Verna has got too close to the child, and the nurse tells Verna she now has to be quarantined as well. The cat’s last minute pounce to wreck things has backfired. Verna has to spend Christmas in quarantine (later the editor informs us in the letter page that she did not contract scarlet fever) and watch the show she tried to sabotage through the observation window.

The show is a huge success and everyone except Verna enjoys it. Afterwards, the girls have a Christmas party back at the club and Verna’s fate gives them all the more reason to celebrate. Minna says she enjoyed the panto despite all the problems and they must do it again.

Thoughts

“Tale of the Panto Cat” was one of the Christmas-themed filler stories that Jinty ran over her build up to Christmas. But what Christmas message does this tale of spite, sabotage and deliberate attempts to wreck a Christmas production have for readers? Well, every Christmas has a Grinch somewhere. If Jinty ever had a Grinch story, this has to be it. But unlike her Seuss counterpart, the heart of Verna does not swell to the right size when faced with the spirit of Christmas. Rather, she destroys herself in her efforts to wreck the show. It backfires on her and she ends up spending Christmas in quarantine.

Instead of a sentimental story about the true spirit of Christmas, we get a more typical story of an unpleasant type who causes trouble and getting her eventual comeuppance. Christmas is used more as the theme and setting for the story. This makes the story a nice, refreshing, atypical break from the more standard Christmas fare in girls’ comics. And Verna does not change into a nicer person in the light of Christmas, which makes it even more realistic.

Minna is the only one who strives for real Christmas spirit in the way she insists on keeping Verna in the loop over the panto. But in so doing she unwittingly helps Verna to cause more trouble. Perhaps the story is making a statement that the spirit of Christmas is lost on some people. In fact, although it was Verna’s idea to put on the show for the children in hospital, Verna clearly did not do it for the sake of the kids. All she cared about was being the star of the show and the centre of attention. When she could not have that, she turned just plain vindictive and set out to wreck things in any which way she could with no thought for the kids or anyone else. That is hardly the way to behave, much less at Christmas time. One can only hope Verna left the club for good after she came out of quarantine and was not around to interfere with the next Christmas special.

Angela’s Angels (1974)

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Angelas Angels 1

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Angelas Angels 2

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Angelas Angels 3

Publication: 11/5/74 – 12/10/1974 (23 episodes)

Reprint: 11/4/1981 – 12/8/1981

Artist: Alberto Cuyas Leo Davy [edited Jan 2015]
Writer: Unknown

And here we go with another story that began in the first issue of Jinty.

Angela Rodd and her six budding student nurses: Sharon, Lesley, Jo, Susannah, Helen and Liz. The six would become known at Spilsbury General as Angela’s Angels. Ah, Jinty’s answer to the old nursing TV programme, Angels, you think? Actually, no – “Angela’s Angels” came out the year before Angels. Anticipatory, isn’t it?

It all starts when a cyclist is knocked down right in front of the hospital. The six girls who will become Angela’s Angels step in to help. A nurse from the hospital, Angela Rodd, comes out and takes charge of the emergency. Angela comes across as a bit severe, but together they get the cyclist to hospital. We get a taste of things to come when Sharon commandeers the ambulance because the ambulance men are distracted!

The six girls all discover that they are applying to be student nurses at Spilsbury General. Sharon hopes they don’t meet “that dragon of a sister” from the cyclist accident. Famous last words – that dragon is now in charge of them! Prompted by how they worked together over the accident, Angela chose them as the student nurses she is going to supervise throughout their training. Angela finds she may have gotten more than she bargained for, as the girls prove to be a handful. On their first day they mistake the house surgeon, Mr Shrubsole, to be unconscious when he is only asleep. The treatment they administer to the unfortunate Mr Shrubsole shows they have much to learn about nursing. First lesson: first do no harm to the patient, you over-eager juniors! Ironically, it is Mr Shrubsole who gives them their nickname: “Angela’s Angels”.

And so begins Jinty’s hospital soap opera, filled with drama, thrills, tears and laughs. And Spilsbury itself will never be the same after the arrival of Angela’s Angels. Nor will Angela herself. Although she comes across as the archetypal, strict, senior nurse whose severity does not make her popular, we know that she is fond of her charges, even if supervising them leaves her shattered afterwards. When Angela is strict about the rules or handling patients, she always shows her charges that there is a reason for it; for example, the reason for no jewellery on duty is for maintaining hygiene. The girls call Angela an acid-drop, but Angela shows that she has a heart underneath. When the Angels are accused of stealing, they assume the questioning Angela gives them is because she thinks they are guilty. But no – Angela had never believed they were guilty. She is the one who uncovers the true thief and sticks up for her charges. At another point Lesley is on the roof retrieving a book and surprised when Angela covers up for her.

Much of the humour and thrills come from the personalities of Angela’s Angels, particularly Sharon, the rebel of the group who hates being tied down with rules and red tape, and is a bit headstrong. She is also naturally high spirited, which leads her to waltzing with an anatomy skeleton and breaking it, tumbling down a laundry chute, and other scrapes that often get her into trouble with the hospital administration and even the law. Helen comes across as the least confident but more determined member of the group; she wants to be a nurse but struggles with the study for it. She studies so hard that she falls asleep while on duty in the ward. When it’s exam time, Helen not only has to study but run a risky but hilarious double bluff because she has been injured and has to get treatment without Angela finding out. Yes, imagine being both a nurse and a patient at the same time, and facing exams as well! It is a delight to see a black girl among the Angels in the form of Jo. Stories with coloured girls were a rarity. Unfortunately, there is a lapse into the African stereotype when Jo is revealed to be superstitious and a believer in magic. It is even more unfortunate for Jo when an enemy discovers her weakness; she has Jo believing she is cursed and enclosing herself in a protective circle of flowers and refusing to leave it.

And Angela’s Angels have their personal problems as well as personalities to provide us with drama. For example, Lesley is the poor rich girl – the daughter of a millionaire who neglects her. And she does not want anyone to know she is the daughter of a millionaire, fearing favouritism. Unfortunately, this is precisely what happens when her secret comes out.

Naturally, much of the drama comes from patients as well. There is the old lady who accuses the Angels of stealing, but is caught out by Angela. A neurotic patient tries to jump out the window, but Sharon saves her. But the most defined patient is Neil, whom the Angels rehabilitate when he is blinded from an accident. In the final episode, Neil gives a toast to the Angels. They comment that they have a long way to go yet in their training, but they have learned how rewarding the job can be. This shows us how much they have grown already, although they are not fully fledged nurses yet.

“Angela’s Angels” was repeated in 1981 as a result of Pam’s Poll, because readers indicated that they wanted a nursing story. Indeed, there had been a dearth of nursing stories in Jinty after “Angela’s Angels”; the only other Jinty serial with this theme was “Willa on Wheels”. “Angela’s Angels” was one of two Jinty serials to be repeated in the regular comic; the other was “Land of No Tears”. Both were repeated because of Pam’s Poll. Strangely, the nurse theme cropped up in the 1 October issue in 1977 with a competition based on the Angels programme. Readers had to find all the nurses’ watches in the issue to be in for winning an Angels doll.

One final note: some of Angela’s Angels appeared in a story of their own in the 1976 annual. Here, they have to administer treatment to a sick woman on an island. The trouble is, they are not experienced enough and the weather is too stormy for medics to come in. Ironically, this story was not called “Angela’s Angels” but “The Little Demon!”.