Treasures from the Seashore (Chris Lloyd) – feature
For 1982 in our Tammy August month round, we profile the final issue in that month. It’s the seventh issue since the new look Tammy was launched. The credits, a little uneven in the relaunch issue, now seem to have been ironed out more. As with a new comic, the relaunch is a little experimental, with some stories and features quickly canned and replacements tried, while other stories prove to be popular and played for all they’re worth.
A new Mario Capaldi story, “Cross on Court”, replaces his previous one, “Come Back Bindi”. Bindi was Jenny McDade’s swansong; it only lasted six episodes when it could have been played for longer. Was it meant to be short, or did it get cut short for some reason? “A Gran for the Gregorys”, a story I liked, lasted eight episodes (ending next issue), but I felt it could have had more episodes and ended too soon. Nanny Young’s story ends this week, presumably to make way for something else, but she returns later.
“Saving Grace” and “Slave of the Clock” are definite hits, and the latter is remembered as a classic. The current Bella story had me hooked when it appeared; Bella loses her memory, and the unscrupulous Barlows are taking advantage of course. Interestingly, it was written by Malcolm Shaw, whereas all the other credited Bella stories were written by Primrose Cumming. “A Horse Called September”, an adaptation of the book by the same name, started later than the relaunch. It is guaranteed to be a smash with Anne Digby as the writer and the gorgeous equestrian artwork of Eduardo Feito. The Pam of Pond Hill story has a story arc that will keep it going for quite a while, and with a secret saboteur as the antagonist, it will definitely keep readers riveted.
We now come to the end of our Tammy June month round with June 1984. In fact, this was the last month Tammy would ever appear. She was cut off by a strike with the 23rd June issue and was not brought back to finish her stories. Everything was forever left tantalisingly unfinished.
If not for the strike, Tammy would have been cancelled in August for her own merger into Girl (second series). As June progressed, there were signs of Tammy heading for the merger, with some double episodes and the disappearance of the Princess logo on her last published issue. Princess had only merged with Tammy two months earlier, so her logo lasted the shortest of any comic to merge with Tammy. The Tammy logo had also changed with the merger, going from straight colour to an eye-catching rainbow colour. Many of the covers are pretty summer scenes (well, it was summer) and an inset of a story panel.
For the moment, the buildup to the Girl merger has not yet started. Tammy’s still on the Princess (second series) merger. “Stefa’s Heart of Stone”, which came over from Princess (reprinted from Jinty), finishes this week. This was the last story to be completed from Princess. This will give more scope for the buildup to the merge with Girl.
Right now, it’s pretty much business as usual. With the last of the serials from Princess gone, Sadie in Waiting is the only Princess feature remaining. The current serials could be scripted for either Tammy or Princess. The one remembered the most is “Cora Can’t Lose”, which built up to an exciting conclusion, only to be cut off by the strike, to the eternal frustration of readers. The other serials that started in the remaining weeks of Tammy got cut off as well. But it may not be too late, even all these years later. Perhaps Rebellion can do something to redress the matter.
Now we come to the 1983 issue in our Tammy June month round. As it so happens, the issue has a feature about popular British folklore in June (below), which makes it even more flavoursome for our June month theme. At this time, Tammy liked to run a feature on a particular month and the folklore that went with it.
We are now in the era where Tammy ran credits and her covers used story illustrations taken from the panels inside. Jinty did the same thing for several years before she changed to Mario Capaldi covers on 21/28 June 1980. This era of Tammy also had a new logo.
This issue has a gorgeous Phil Gascoine cover, which heralds Gascoine’s new story, “Backhand Play”, the last tennis serial Tammy published. A number of tennis stories appeared in Tammy over the years, such as “Backhand Billie” and “Double – Or Nothing!”. But the one that has to be the classic is “Becky Never Saw the Ball”, about a tennis player making a comeback after going blind.
Bella and Pam of Pond Hill continue as the regular characters. There are two other regulars strips that appear now. One is a weekly complete story, with themes ranging from the supernatural to romance. Some of these completes reprint old Strange Stories, with text boxes replacing the Storyteller. The other is “The Button Box”. The Button Box is a storyteller theme (minus the supernatural), with Bev Jackson bringing a story every week from her button box. Each button has a story to tell, and often a moral along with it. This week’s moral: if you show a little kindness, it will be rewarded. Like having your life saved, which is what happens with the only man who showed kindness to a beggar girl who is bullied by everyone else in an Italian village.
Tammy has had a higher number of serials since she dropped a lot of old regulars on 17 July 1982. And now she has credits, we can not only see who is behind the stories but also the types of stories some of her writers favoured. For example, we can see from the credits that Alison Christie favoured heart-tugging emotional stories and Charles Preston spooky completes. Perhaps Preston used to write on Strange Stories, Gypsy Rose and Misty. Other writers, such as Malcolm Shaw, Ian Mennell and Charles Herring, wrote on a wider variety of genres.
Wheels of Death (artist Ken Houghton) – Strange Story
Di and the Dolphins (artist Eduardo Feito)
We come to 1982 in our Tammy June month round, and the Tammy & Jinty merger era. The following month, everything in the merger was swept away for everything to start new and anew in the new look Tammy on 17 July 1982. So the weeks leading up to it was clearing the decks, with double episodes of serials, some material cut from “The Human Zoo”, and new stories shorter in length, such as new Bella story starting here. The Jinty logo has shrunk, another sign the Jinty merger was on its way out.
Bella’s new story is the last Bella story to have the cover spot in the splash panel cover era. The story begins with Bella having nowhere to go but Uncle Jed and Aunt Gert, which usually means slaving for them until she finds a way to break free and pursue her gymnastics. She is astonished to find them coming over all nice to her, but they have a long track record of phoney niceness to her when it suits them, and this is no exception.
The merger regulars (Monster Tales, Old Friends and the Strange Stories) carry on as usual. Nanny Young, a new regular that started with the merger, and Pam of Pond Hill, which came over from the merger, will continue with the new look Tammy. Bessie, Molly, Tansy and Wee Sue are in rotation as the “Old Friends” regular, but they look tired and clearly on their very last legs.
As there are so many regulars with the merger, there is not much room for serials. One reader even wrote in during the merger asking for more serials and no more “Old Friends”. She got her wish with the new look Tammy, with “Old Friends” dropped and the number of regulars reduced, which allowed for more serials. Right now, we have “Di and the Dolphins” and a welcome reprint of “The Human Zoo” from Jinty.
The current Pond Hill story puts more focus on Pam’s boyfriend Goofy than usual. Goofy, a bit on the bumbling side, wants to prove he can be good at something. His choice is making and entering a soapbox racer in a derby. He is adamant Pam is to stay out of it and not help in any way, saying she’s too interfering. Trouble is, he’s making things too difficult for her not to interfere! It’s soon evident he doesn’t know what he’s doing, he’s bitten off more than he can chew, and he badly needs the help he so adamantly refuses.
Billie Stephenson and her grandfather live and work at the local railway line of Whistledown, and for years grandpa has run Old Smokey, the commuter steam train between Whistledown and the big city. But then Councillor Gresby sets up a garage, offering rival commuting by car, and is trying to push out Grandpa. He even puts up an ad outside the railway station (cheek!) saying, “It’s cheaper by far, to travel by car!”. His selling point is cheap petrol, and, as the Stephensons soon discover, his scheme is making the villagers so dependent on car travel they lose interest in the trainline, thinking they don’t need it anymore.
Before long, Gresby is pinching not only Grandpa’s customers but his staff as well. Grandpa has to cover their jobs as well as his own, and it’s wearing him out. A flu epidemic closes the school, enabling Billie to help with Grandpa’s workload. But Gresby sends in a railway official to inspect things, and after seeing how poor custom has become, he closes down the railway line altogether. And Gresby still isn’t through; he tries to buy out Grandpa by offering him a job at his garage, and then he buys all the railway cottages for his garage employees. This pulls out the Stephensons’ home right from under them, and now they’re homeless. Gresby’s game is clear to Grandpa: “Take a job from him or get out!”
Still, it’s not all going Gresby’s way. The housewives have wised up to how Gresby pulled strings to close the railway line. As they need the train because they don’t have cars, they rally around for Old Smokey and launch the fight to reopen the line. This gives Grandpa the resolution to fight as well. He soon finds a way to stay on living at the railway line – buy an old railway coach and convert it into a home. Billie organises a petition to Save Old Smokey.
But Gresby is finding his own way around the difficulties, and he seems to be cutting off the Stephensons at every turn. People are treating the Stephensons’ railway home as a joke, and Gresby takes advantage. He pays off the girls at school to really bully Billie over it. He then deals with the housewives by offering them a luxury bus to take them to the shops. Now they now say they don’t need Smokey and won’t bother with the petition. Billie only gets a handful of signatures. She also finds the closure of the railway line has driven more people to buy cars because there’s no other way of commuting, so now they don’t think they even need Smokey anymore. Gresby has the Stephensons’ water supply cut off, and the neighbours seem too scared to give them water (probably under threat of losing their jobs). Gresby sends in a scrap merchant to have Smokey scrapped. However, Billie manages to get a letter from British Rail telling Gresby he does not have the authority for this because Smokey is their property, not his. When the railway home springs a leak, giving Grandpa bronchitis, Gresby has the sanitary department around to inspect the home. They tell them to make the place damp proof or find another place to live.
On the bright side, Billie finds a surprise ally – Gresby’s son Simon. Simon says he loves trains and stands up for Billie against the bullies who were paid off to pick on her. At first, Grandpa doesn’t trust Simon, but Billie thinks she can. Another friend is Farmer Miles of Whistledown Farm, who helps with water and other supplies.
Simon soon proves he can be trusted. He repairs the leak in the railway carriage as the Stephensons can’t, and seeing how poorly the petition is going, comes up with an interesting way to help it along – take the petition and get signatures himself. He gets into a fight with his own father over it, right in front of everyone in public. The rough way the enraged Gresby treats Billie and Simon shocks everyone so much they rally around with support and signatures. Hmm, did Simon plan it this way, or did it just happen?
The fight is not the only reason why the villagers have turned against Gresby; they are finding his service and maintenance charges are too high, so they’re looking at Smokey again. His petrol is the only thing that is cheap, but Billie knows that will increase too, once Gresby has gotten rid of them.
Gresby tries to destroy the petition by having one of his mechanics setting fire to the railway carriage. The arson does a pretty good job of making a mess of the place, but Grandpa was one step ahead of Gresby on the petition – he hid it inside Smokey in case Gresby tried to destroy it. Gresby is seething to see the petition being posted to the railway company.
Billie soon gets warning Gresby is up to something else, and she also sees his garage is doing extremely well despite people turning on him after the public fight. He takes over the village dump site for his new car show room, so what’s going to be the new dump site for the old rubbish? Yep, you guessed it – the railway station. Billie and Grandpa are horrified to wake up to find themselves woken up surrounded by rubbish, and Gresby renames the old railway station “Whistledown Scrap Yard” (more of that cheek!). He is confident that as the railway line is closed, the railway company will not make a fuss about all the rubbish dumped on its property.
But Gresby soon finds he has miscalculated. When Mr Martin, a representative from the railway company, comes in response to the petition, he has Gresby remove the rubbish or face legal action. What’s more, as the council won’t remove the rubbish, Gresby has to pay a private firm to remove it, and there’s nowhere to put it but his own front garden! The Stephensons really have the last laugh on him this time.
Mr Martin says they will reopen the line, but only if they can find a guard and a station master. So the Stephensons advertise, but Gresby is onto it with his own advertising, to tempt the jobseekers away with better jobs at his garage. However, the railway company find the men to do the jobs. Gresby bribes the coal merchant not to sell them any coal for Old Smokey, but the villagers overhear and rally around with their own coal.
Grandpa insists on fixing up Old Smokey for the big day despite stormy weather, which makes him ill again. Gresby takes advantage by telling everyone they can’t have a sick old man like that as a driver, makes the train service unreliable, and they’re far better off with cars. Grandpa overhears, and this time he wonders if Gresby is right; he’s old, getting sick, and Smokey needs a young driver although it seems unthinkable that anyone but Grandpa can drive her. Though he recovers, he grows depressed and loses interest in everything, even in Smokey.
Then, on another stormy night, matters come to a head when Gresby comes to the Stephensons begging for help. Simon’s got appendicitis and the storm has blocked the road, so no cars or ambulances can get to the hospital. Grandpa and Smokey are his only chance of saving Simon, as the railway line is the only other way to the hospital. So, Gresby is now forced to use the very steam engine he’s forced into retirement for months. And now he has discovered the hidden folly of making everyone in Whistledown – including himself – too dependent on just one means of commuting to the city and putting all their eggs in one basket.
Of course, the mission of mercy to the hospital on Smokey is how it’s all resolved. Simon is saved, and a grateful Gresby apologises, makes peace with the Stephensons and leaves them in peace, and concedes there’s room for both the railway and the garage in Whistledown. Smokey and Grandpa become heroes in the press and are back in business. Smokey is now tooting merrily along the railway track again.
According to Comixminx, at the time of publication, the story illustrated the increasing move to car usage. Nowadays, nearly fifty years later, we live in an age where increased car usage is causing multiple problems: too many vehicles, traffic congestion, traffic jams, parking problems and costs, increasing pollution, environmental damage, carbon footprints, fuel shortages and increasing petrol prices. These are driving us more and more to alternative forms of transport, preferably ones that are cheaper and more environmentally friendly.
None of this was really in vogue at the time of publication, and none of it comes up in the story. All the same, the themes that come up in the story – too much car usage, not enough alternate means of transport, discarding existing means of transport that are still serviceable and could be upgraded, profitability at the expense of welfare and common sense – now seem more relevant today than in 1976.
The only major concern at the time of publication was rising cost of petrol. This is probably why Gresby’s cheap petrol is such a selling point. His other selling points include reliability, convenience, and cars being cheaper to run. Against this are his exorbitant charges for car maintenance and services. The petrol is the only thing that is cheap, but that will rise too, once the Stephensons are out of the way. If it happens, Gresby could well price himself out of the market.
However, from the outset we can see Gresby is so greedy at making his the only means of commuting to keep his garage profitable that he fails to see the folly that has been there from the start – having only one means of commuting puts too many eggs in one basket, which makes people over-reliant on it. But there will be times when it fails for one reason or other, and can’t always be available. He finds this out the hard way at the story’s climax. Besides, not everyone is willing or able to use that particular means of transport and may prefer others. Trains and cars have their pros and cons; rail has advantages that cars don’t have, and vice-versa. Therefore, both have ended up complementing each other, and this is what happens at the end of the story.
The Stephensons, in their own way, are as short-sighted as Gresby. The reason they want people to continue to use Smokey is that she is their life and blood, and they can’t live any other way. Moreover, to them, Smokey is not just a train but a person and their dearest friend, and they will move heaven and earth to save her. However, they are not looking all that much beyond this, to look at other reasons why Smokey should carry on, or if not, what else she could be used for. There are so many arguments they could use for public appeal. Over-dependency on one means of commuting has already been discussed. Heritage value and tourism could be another. This was used in a Button Box story (also written by Alison Christie) where a railway company closes down a railway station for economic reasons, to the devastation of the dedicated station master. As with Grandpa, the station was his life. However, the station’s heritage value comes to the rescue. A railway enthusiast converts it into a railway museum, beginning a whole new life for the station and its station master. There are also people like Simon who just love trains, and an old steam engine would build up on nostalgia appeal. And of course, there are people who prefer to be taken along the scenic route and avoid the traffic.
The villagers get so annoying in the way they constantly change back and forth between supporting Smokey and not doing so because of Gresby’s crafty manoeuvres to keep their custom. One minute they begin to see the pitfalls of the garage and the switch to cars, and even see Gresby for what he is. Then they change their minds in a flash once they receive yet another lucrative offer from Gresby or, in some cases, an off-panel threat from him. However, in the times when they do support Smokey, they always leave something behind to help. Ultimately, this takes the form of the filled petition. The petition in itself does not save Smokey, but it opens up the avenue to what ultimately does – prove to everyone, including greedy Gresby, that there is still a use for rail in Whistledown and they should not rely on just one means of commuting.
Save Old Smokey! (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
Do-It-Yourself Dot (artist Alf Saporito)
Lori, “Miss No-Name”, makes her first attempt to run from the horrible Crabbs. But instead of dragging Lori back, Ma Crabb resorts to more crafty means. She sends a shadow, Fingers, on Lori’s tail. His job is to pull some sneakiness on Lori to make her come crawling back. Will he succeed? She’s found a good refuge, but he’s watching outside.
Katie wants to see a big football match, but she’s been jinxed by bad chilblains. Poor Katie. Will she miss out on the match or find a way around things?
Sally and Maya are hiding a deer, Star, from the circus. But nasty types are after Maya and are on their tail.
Talk about a farewell concert! Fran is tearfully singing “We’ll Meet Again” at the school concert, to say goodbye to her parents the only way she can. The floods are now claiming her hometown as the reservoir bursts. The concert hall is quietly evacuating while the headmistress orders the concert to bravely carry on to avoid panic.
Ma Siddons turns her hand at painting this week when she agrees to look after a famous artist’s dog in exchange for free art lessons. The results are a dog’s dinner, and Mrs Siddons is even more annoyed when Dora ends up reaping the benefits.
A disastrous trail of mess-ups and misunderstandings have made Sara distrustful of Nell. But this week, when Sara sees the horrible orphanage Nell was raised in after her horse was sold to its cruel matron, they come together again. Trouble is, how to get the horse back?
Susie suspects there’s more to Wanda than being the biggest tattle-tale and most self-righteous prig you ever saw, but her conduct is just impossible. Then, Susie discovers the truth when she stumbles across an old newspaper, and from the sound of it, she’s astounded.
Betsy Tanner begins her transportation to Botany Bay. She’s been warned, “You’ll be lucky if you get to Botany Bay alive!” And for her, it’s not just the usual convict ship conditions. Everyone, from her arch-enemy Lady De Mortimer to a fellow convict named Judy, is out to make her life a living hell. At least Judy turns around when Betsy shows her a kindness, and Betsy still has her farewell present, some art supplies, to help her survive.
Grandpa and Billie Stephenson are fighting to hold onto their railway home against the greedy Councillor Gresby. Grandpa isn’t impressed with the new flat they’ll be moved to, for all its conveniences. Then, he turns up trumps by buying a railway coach for them to live in, so they can stay where they are. But will Gresby give up that easily?
Dot’s invited her friends around for ping pong, but practice gets her into trouble with her Dad. In the end, the ping pong balls are used for bingo games. Even Dad is impressed after being annoyed with Dot.
Save Old Smokey! (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
Dora’s doggy problem this week is a dog who’s named Custard because he’s such a coward that he has to wear earmuffs as loud noises make him leap thirty feet in the air and has no clue how to stand up for himself. Then Custard finds the courage he never knew he had when he sees the nasty Ma Siddons bully Dora. She gets such a fright at his barking and growling that she takes refuge in a cupboard and comes out crawling to Dora for the rest of the evening.
Meanwhile, another cupboard is used as torture in “Bound for Botany Bay”. Poor Mary has been locked in a dark cupboard as punishment for blowing the whistle on Miss Wortley’s cruel treatment of Betsy, and it’s driving her mad with terror. This is the last straw for Betsy, so she decides it’s time to run off, with Mary too, and seek out her father. However, it’s not going to be easy to avoid recapture. Miss Wortley’s screaming for them to be brought back in chains and is going to turn Australia upside-down until she finds them.
Nasty Ma Crabb has been forcing the amnesic Lori to practise dangerous climbing on an old tower. Now Lori finds out why – Ma Crabb’s training her up to commit forced robberies that involve high wall climbing!
The latest threat to survival in “Fran of the Floods” is a tinpot dictator group called the Black Circle. They operate a boot camp, which they operate as slave drivers. Now Fran and her friends are prisoners of the Black Circle and forced to do hand ploughing in the still-falling rain at the crack of a whip. Then a swarm of crazed birds attacks. Could it be their chance of escape?
Carrie’s in Scotland with her kindly gran and Old Peg, the pram that seems to cure any sick baby that’s rocked in it. Carrie is yearning for Old Peg to cure her sick baby brother Peter.
There’s no Jinx from St Jonah’s at the moment. We presume she’ll be back when another story finishes, which could be “Friends of the Forest”. It looks like it’s nearing its end, and there’s a surprising revelation about our gypsy girl Maya – she’s an heiress!
Councillor Gresby is demonstrating he will resort to any means necessary to get rid of the Stephensons – including setting fire to their railway coach home and destroying the petition to “Save Old Smokey!”. Now he’s cleared out the village dump – and guess where he’s dumped the rubbish.
This week, “The Slave of Form 3B” is hypnotised into sabotaging one of Stacey’s rivals, Edna. Edna guesses the mean trick and who was responsible, but nobody will believe her. Stacey’s free to strike again, but the blurb for next week hints it won’t go so smoothly.
This issue marks the start of the Jinty classic, “Fran of the Floods”, a tale that has more relevance in today’s climate change environment and rising sea levels than when it was first published in 1976. Rising temperatures and melting ice caps are causing non-stop rain worldwide, and flooding problems are everywhere. Fran Scott is treating it as a joke, but Dad senses it’s something more like the Apocalypse.
Ping-Pong Paula ends this week. Paula is in hospital in a coma after a road accident, but not even this brings her quarrelling parents together. It takes a telling-to from a nurse that they have to put everything aside and go in together if they want Paula to recover for things to come right at last.
Poor Nell can’t do anything right. This week she tries to protect Sara’s horse Mister Flicker because she mistakenly thinks he will be destroyed. But her ignorance in horse care has resulted in him becoming seriously ill. More tears for the girl who’s “Too Old to Cry!”.
Lyndy Lagtree, who has finally escaped from the “Slaves of the Candle” racket, realises the villainous Mrs Tallow is out to steal the Crown Jewels and is hot on her trail. Unfortunately, she fails to stop Mrs Tallow from putting her plan in motion at the Tower of London.
In “Friends of the Forest”, Sally and Maya are trying to keep a tame deer, Star, from the circus. Sally is discovering how Maya lives in the forest – in a tree house. But it looks like the welfare busybodies don’t approve of this. They grab Sally, thinking she’s Maya.
In “Song of the Fir Tree”, our fugitives catch up with their old friend Rachel from the concentration camp, who’s now a bit of a fugitive herself. But their enemy Grendelsen catches up too, and now he’s got all three at gunpoint.
Hazel finds out why Black Crag Mountain is angry – greedy developers are out to disturb the dead as they dynamite the old mine workings for silver, and they’ve been scaring the villagers off their land to do it. No wonder the mountain’s a bit pissed! Wouldn’t we be?
That self-righteous prig Wanda White is too much this time. She’s kept Susie awake all night by reading “Pilgrim’s Progress” aloud – her nightly habit of reading a self-improvement book – through those thin walls between them. It’s the last straw in Susie working herself into exhaustion, and the exhaustion gets Susie into trouble in gym class next day.
Dot’s putting on a bit of weight and is making do-it-yourself gadgets to lose it. She eventually turns to a do-it-yourself Turkish bath, which solves the weight problem. Trouble is, Dot forgot to undress first!
Katie is getting a cup of tea for her friend Sue, who is in hospital. Should be straightforward? Not when you’re the Jinx from St. Jonah’s. And that’s just the start of the jinxing that gets Katie banned from the hospital. The ban isn’t stopping Katie from getting some sweets to Sue – but with a fishing pole? Oh dear, watch out for jinxing hijinks at the hospital next week!
In this issue, two stories are clearly on their penultimate episodes: “Come Into My Parlour” and “Land of No Tears”.
In the former, Mother Heggerty’s spell forces Jody to set fire to the Kings’ store. But she’s been caught in the act. She could be facing criminal charges, but the blurb for next week says fire will strike at something else other than the store. Maybe someone is going to burn the old witch at the stake or something?
In the latter, Cassy comes close to losing the vital swimming marathon the Gamma Girls need to win because of a forced bargain with the ruthless Perfecta. Fortunately Perfecta injures herself from over-exertion in the race and drops out, freeing Cassy from all that and enabling her to catch up in the nick of time. Everyone is cheering her on, much to the villainous Hive Inspector’s chagrin. His response to secret helper Miss Norm’s delight in Cassy catching up – “What do you mean, Miss Norm? It’s a disgrace!” – cracks me up every time. Now Cassy is duking out the final length with two others and it’s so close. Everyone except the Hive Inspector and Perfecta is on the edge of their seats to see if Cassy will win.
“Two Mothers for Maggie” looks like it could be nearing its end as well. Mum is critically ill. It looks like the crisis has actually aroused a bit of conscience in Maggie’s horrible stepfather, but he’s not treating Maggie any better because of it.
A new story starts, “Paula’s Puppets”. Paula Richards is a spoiled, selfish girl whose rocky road to redemption starts when her father’s toy factory burns down and he is arrested for it. Her life turns upside-down while he protests his innocence. We believe him though nobody else does, but we know the poor bloke’s going to go down for it. Meanwhile, Paula finds some weird puppets at the burned-out factory, which seem to possess some kind of power.
People should really watch what they say with Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag around. Two pitying women whisper what an “absolute dragon” poor Jenny’s got for an aunt and she needs a knight in shining armour. Henrietta obliges, but she has taken it a bit literally and hijinks ensue. But of course it sorts out the old dragon.
Ella is not making much progress with her training for the waterskiing event she wants to win for her family, nor with convincing others she was not to blame for her cousin Clem’s accident. Then Ella makes progress with something else – finding the girl who really caused Clem’s accident. But when she confronts the girl, the miscreant makes it clear she is not going to own up and clear Ella’s name.
Alley Cat gets freebies from the sausage factory, but trust Spotty Muchloot to make trouble. Fortunately it all turns to the advantage of the factory and Alley Cat is rewarded, much to Spotty’s consternation.
Phil is trying to work out how break into Hardacre House, where she believes Carol is being held prisoner. It’s still very odd that Carol’s family clam up about it. It gets even odder when Phil learns Hardacre House and its owners are very mysterious, and she does not like the look of them when she sees them. After an accident with a tractor she is finally inside. The blurb for next week hints she will not like the look of what she finds there either.
Skateboarding is the only thing that gives Concrete Surfer Jean Everidge the upper hand over her smarmy cousin Carol. Jean’s about to start her new school with Carol, but the leadup to it is not going well, and Jean senses Carol is behind it.
Jody has become evil thanks to an additional spell from the witch Mother Heggerty. She now believes she is capable of anything, regardless of how terrible it is, and is loving every minute of it. How is she going to break free of Mother Heggerty’s power when right now she doesn’t even want to?
Cassy gets even more of a taste of how totalitarian this Land of No Tears is. She learns the Hive Inspector, who’s about to pay a visit, has powers to take you away: “No one knows where to, but you never return!” Shades of the Gestapo! Miranda is terrified she will meet this fate if the Inspector finds out she is secretly seeing her mother, and she breaks off with Cassy. Meanwhile, the ruthless Perfecta breaks off with her own friend to train every waking hour for the Golden Girl Award. Cassy is shocked to see the former bosom pals “walking away from each other like robots!”
Ella bravely sets out to learn to waterski to win the competition for Clem, in the face of everyone who’s against her because they think she deliberately caused Clem’s accident. But her first attempt at waterskiing is such a disaster she’s lucky she didn’t hurt herself.
The same can also be said for sneaky cousin Rodney when he steals Katie’s roller skates to overtake her in the “Race for a Fortune”. But he soon finds he’s nowhere near as good on them as she is. He goes careering down a hill and lands on the back of a rodeo steer with her! Roller skating is back in the hands of the expert by the end of the episode. Thanks to his little stunt she has taken the lead again, and she’s gotten a lot of money out of it as well.
In “Sue’s Fantastic Fun-Bag!”, a thief breaks into the school, his first attempt at crime. But his remark that he could become the world’s leading cat burglar really is asking for it with Henrietta around, especially when she’s the first thing he tries to steal. Needless to say, his first attempt at crime is his last by the end of the episode.
In the Gypsy Rose story, Susanna is given a snowstorm and finds it has a tale to tell, with each instalment appearing every time she shakes it. The trouble is, the tale is scaring her to death. Gypsy Rose tells Susanna that she must either follow it through to know how the tale ended or put the snowstorm away. Susanna decides to follow through because she must know (not to mention us readers) what the ending is, but what will the final shake of the snowstorm reveal?
Maggie’s sleazy stepfather shows what an abuser he is when he gets so mad he locks her in the coal shed without food or water. Then he refuses to let her see her TV debut, so she has to go to a TV shop in pouring rain to see it. Maggie has a good mind to tell Miss Keyes about the abuse, but she’s staying quiet because Mum doesn’t want word to get around.
Alley Cat is back. Arch-enemy Spotty Muchloot picks on him for first aid practice, and now poor Alley Cat looks like an oversized cocoon. But can he still turn things around?
Phil finds out the girl she saw being bundled off in the middle of the night is named Carol, and her mother is clearly not telling the truth about things. Phil manages to wheedle Carol’s current address out of the mother, enabling her to write to Carol. Carol’s reply is a coded message for help. The plot thickens!