The Return of Splat! (photostory sequel) – first episode
Olly Decides! (artist Trini Tinturé) – complete story
Let’s Go Pop! – feature
Wham! – Pullout
Village of Shame (photostory)
Patty’s World (artist Purita Campos)
The Final Curtain (photostory) – final episode
Help Me! – Problem Page
For the final issue in our Tammy August round, welcome to the Girl and Tammy non-merger issue on 25 August 1984. This is the issue where Tammy would have properly merged with Girl if not for the strike that cut her off on 23 June 1984.
Instead of a proper merger, all that appears is the Tammy logo. There is no Tammy content anywhere in the issue. It’s business as usual for Girl. Girl readers must have wondered what the Tammy logo was doing there, and where the hell Tammy was inside if she was merging with Girl. On the cover here, something is written in pencil: “first combined issue”. From this, it is confirmed the official cancellation of Tammy was set for 18 August 1984 with issue 699. A new photo story starts this issue, possibly to replace whatever had been planned from Tammy.
What the final issue of Tammy would have looked like can only remain forever in speculation. As there was not much room in Girl for the Tammy merger, it is fair to deduce that everything in Tammy would have finished by the final issue, with probably Bella Barlow and/or Pam of Pond Hill carrying on in Girl. How long either of them or anything else from Tammy would have lasted in Girl is anyone’s guess, especially as Girl was given a total makeover on 6 October 1984.
The Tammy logo appeared on the Girl cover, denoting the token merger, until 29 September 1984. Then a new look Girl was launched.
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.
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!
Nell (short for Eleanor) has grown up in Blackthorn House, a very grim pre-WW2 orphanage run by the cruel Mrs Arbuthnot, who is also very cunning and can lie her way out of any situation. Nell has the additional problems of being plain and having crooked teeth and a lame leg, which makes her a bit clumsy. Children have to toughen up fast to survive in the orphanage, and Nell has developed serious toughness. She is not tough to the point of scorning tenderness; the other children respect her for being kind and helping them as much as she can. A newcomer at the orphanage gives Nell a gold necklace in return for helping her.
Then Nell stumbles across her orphanage record. It informs her about a Mrs Grace, a woman who is her legal guardian, her mother maybe, and paying for her upkeep. This and the gift of the necklace prompt Nell to run away from the orphanage in search of Mrs Grace. She seizes her chance while the hawk-eyed Mrs Arbuthnot is on temporary absence from the orphanage. Along the way she swaps the necklace for a dress she plucked from a washing line and lands a washer-up job at a café. This earns her enough money for the train fare to the town where Mrs Grace lives.
However, Nell is shocked to see what she finds at the address: Academy of Beauty and Grace for Ladies. Being no beauty, she is at a loss as to how to introduce herself. She watches the academy for a while. While doing so, she observes the arrival of one very reluctant newcomer, Sara Wellby, who will play a big part in her story. Sara’s mother is forcing her to attend the academy to forget “all that nonsense” i.e. horse riding, which she disapproves of for snobbish reasons and also because (with more justification) she thinks Sara’s head is too full of it.
Eventually Nell decides to just go for it after seeing Mrs Grace looks a nice person. But right on Nell’s heels are Mrs Arbuthnot – who claims Nell is a bad lot and stole the necklace from her – the owner of the dress Nell took, and policemen! Once Mrs Grace realises who Nell is, she kindly sorts things out and arranges with Mrs Arbuthnot to let Nell stay at the academy. Mrs Arbuthnot seems only too happy to do so, saying she does not want Nell back. So Mrs Arbuthnot is gone (for now, anyway) and everything looks a lived-happily-ever-after fairy tale ending for Nell.
However, Nell is soon down to earth with a bump when she discovers she is not welcome at the academy. She overhears Mrs Grace saying she just took her in for personal reasons but wants her kept out of sight, downstairs, because of her looks.
When Nell confronts Mrs Grace about what she overheard, Mrs Grace is impressed by her spunk. But she refuses to explain the mystery and tells Nell the story is she will take her on as a pupil. Nell realises Mrs Grace is just keeping her out of charity and she will be beholden to her. This offends her pride, but there’s not much option.
But really – is a beauty academy seriously taking on an ugly duckling with a limp and a rough ‘n’ tough attitude from her harsh orphanage upbringing as a pupil? In an establishment where the other pupils are glamour and grace and posh? And Mrs Grace never really wanted Nell in the first place because of her physical shortfalls? If this is not a joke, it’s a recipe for trouble. Not surprisingly, things get off to a bad start for Nell with the other girls. Nell is quick to realise not to let word get around about her orphanage origins. Nell has many angry/crying fits at feeling unloved and unwanted at the academy, and her reactions at being perceived as an embarrassment by the establishment because she’s a rough kid become aggressive.
Things begin to look up when Nell makes a friend in Sara. She loves her horse, Mister Flicker; she wants to be a professional show jumper, but, as already stated, her parents disapprove. She only agreed to come to the academy if Mister Flicker came too, but is angry at Mrs Grace because there’s no sign of him. Nell strikes a friendship with Sara, and it is the only thing making life at the academy bearable for Nell where she’s an unwanted misfit.
Mrs Grace, offering to be more friendly with Nell, explains that Mister Flicker’s arrival has just been delayed by a vet check, but she does not approve of the growing friendship or either girl getting too interested in horses. Nonetheless, Nell covers for Sara in class when Mister Flicker does arrive and she wants to help him settle.
Unfortunately, those lovely hair products in class are too big a temptation for a scruffy kid from an orphanage that did not offer much in the way of decent body wash products. And when Nell uses them to help clean Sara up from the stables, things go a bit wrong. Sara unwittingly uses hair dye and ends up looking like a piebald pony. She takes it in good part and gets a short haircut to go with it. But when Mrs Grace hears what happened and why, she orders Nell not to mix with the other girls. However, this does not stop the girls’ friendship.
Next, Sara wants to secretly enter gymkhanas with Nell’s help. The event is being held at near a contest the school is entering, one to find the prettiest hands for an advertising campaign at Wickley Factory. Nell is surprised to hear from Sara that though her face is plain, her hands are pretty enough for enter. So the plan is for Nell to enter the hand contest under Sara’s name while she sneaks off to the gymkhana – where she fails dismally. Not enough preparation, rushing her horse, not putting him first, say the judges. Worse, Sara hadn’t bargained on Nell actually winning the hand contest in her name!
Of course the deception is discovered. Nell cops worse punishment than Sara (such as getting a whacking on her hands in front of everyone but Sara doesn’t) though Sara is to blame too. The girls blame Nell for the trouble Sara got into, and discovering her orphanage background turns them even more against her. Now she’s even more isolated at the academy, with nothing but her rough ‘n’ tough hide developed from her orphanage years to keep her going. Sara is banned from seeing Mister Flicker for a month or speaking to Nell, and her friendship with Nell sours.
Despite everything, Wickley is still interested in Nell for their campaign. Hearing this, Nell’s hopes rise again, but she has to work with them in secret.
Then disaster strikes again when Nell overhears a conversation in the stables about a horse being destroyed and mistakenly thinks it’s Mister Flicker. She tries to hide him in a shed, but her actions make him ill. Sara thinks Nell tried to kill Mister Flicker out of spite for ending their friendship. She has the girls cut Nell so dead they draw a death head on her door. This has a spooky, frightening effect on her. Nell feels the death head is cursing her, and it shows in her performance. Worse, her deal with Wickley falls through because it would expose the secret to Mrs Grace. And she needed the money from the job to pay for Mister Flicker’s treatment, but now she can’t afford it.
Next, it’s Open Day, and Nell sees a chance to use some of the goods to raise the money. Again things go wrong when a policeman spots her selling cheap food to poor kids. He means to escort her back safely to the academy, but the embarrassment wrecks the Open Day and the story of the orphanage child at the academy now circulates among the stuck-up parents.
Nell sneaks into Mrs Grace’s office to find out the truth about herself, but accidentally starts a fire that almost burns the school down and Mrs Grace is injured. Sara, who saw Nell sneak into Mrs Grace’s office, thinks Nell started the fire on purpose and won’t listen to Nell’s pleas that it was an accident. The school is temporarily closed and the girls are sent home. Nell, who has nowhere to go, is taken in at none other than Sara’s house!
The long, messy trail of disasters and misunderstandings at the academy is not making Nell’s stay at the Wellbys’ a happy one. Sara now thinks Nell is strange and dangerous; her distrust of Nell has her spending far more time with Mr Flicker than ever, which has Nell thinking Sara cares more about Mister Flicker than her; Sara’s snobby parents are mortified to find Nell is a common kid; Nell tries to run away when she discovers this, but this just leads to more misunderstandings and trouble with Sara; and Nell thinks all she can do is put up with things under yet another luxurious but hostile roof with everyone against her.
Things couldn’t get any worse? They do when Mrs Arbuthnot shows up again. She’s after Mrs Wellby’s money, as “donations” for the orphanage, and forces Nell to help her. She also gets hold of Mister Flicker to sell on for a good price. When Sara finds out, she has Nell take her to the orphanage. Sara is shocked to see what a horrible place Nell has come from, and finds the treatment of Mister Flicker just as bad. He’s in the coal shed with nothing but stale bread – which he only got because the orphans kindly smuggled it in. Mrs Arbuthnot had no intention of feeding him. Sara is all for removing Mister Flicker right then and there, but Nell, who knows it is technically stealing and Mrs Arbuthnot can lie her way out of anything, persuades Sara that they have to find another way. They strike a bargain: Sara helps Nell prove Mrs Grace is her mother and Nell will help get Mister Flicker back. The orphanage kids will keep an eye on Mister Flicker. Unfortunately Sara’s parents are caught up in party preparations to celebrate their anniversary, so it’s a bad time for Sara and Nell to approach them about their little problems.
During the party, one of the orphanage kids arrives with bad news: Mrs Arbuthnot has suddenly advanced her plans for Mister Flicker and he’s gone. Fortunately, another orphanage kid, Tim, sneaked into the horse box and laid a trail, enabling them to find Mister Flicker, and discover Mrs Arbuthnot sold him to a racket. Sara gets the police, the racket is sorted out, and Mister Flicker is back. What happened to Mrs Arbuthnot is not clear, but angry remarks from Mrs Wellby give the impression she is now sorted out too. However, Sara’s parents are more concerned about the embarrassment this has caused them and send Nell back to the academy. They are definitely not going to help Nell discover her past, and Sara is so wrapped up with Mister Flicker she forgets her side of the bargain to Nell. This has Nell feeling let down and unloved again.
Nell discovers the fire she accidentally started at the academy has destroyed Mrs Grace’s private papers, dashing her hopes of proving her past. The housekeeper snaps at her in anger for starting the fire. This is the last straw for Nell and she runs off, leaving a note. She heads to the shed where she hid Mister Flicker but breaks her leg, and it’s pouring rain. She’s in serious danger but manages to crawl into the shed.
Nell’s note is discovered, and a search party finds her in the nick of time. Sara realises this is partly her fault for the way she failed Nell, and she apologises. Also shocked by what happened, Mrs Grace tells Nell the truth. Nell’s mother was a servant employed by Mrs Grace, but she unwittingly caused the mother’s death. She then sent Nell to the orphanage, paying for her upkeep, without realising how cruel the orphanage was. Mrs Grace now officially adopts Nell, arranges treatment for Nell’s lame leg and crooked teeth, and gives her a complete makeover. The academy is converted into a decent orphanage for the orphans. Nell and Sara go to college, and they will help run the place when they return, complete with horse riding.
The story could easily have taken the route of Nell enduring the harshness at the orphanage while trying to do something about it, failing time and time over but never giving up, and ultimately succeeding. The formula has been frequently seen in girls’ comics, such as Jinty’s “Merry at Misery House”, “The Worst School in the World” from Judy, and “The School for Unwanted Ones” from Bunty.
Instead, when Nell first escapes from the orphanage, the story takes the unusual route of not having her dragged back there and face terrible punishment, which does not stop her from trying again. The cruel matron, rather than being the main antagonist throughout the story, is used to help set up the early episodes and then the resolution of the story. In the meantime, Nell’s first escape attempts succeeds, only to lead her down the ugly duckling/misfit route where she just finds herself more and more of an outcast, and her efforts to do something helpful or find out who she is just get her into ever-increasing trouble. For all the luxuries her new life brings her, it is not bringing her the love or happiness she craves. She finds herself actually pining for the orphanage; grim and cruel though it was, at least she was among her own and had friends. She discovers that “Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it” (Proverbs 15:17) is all too true.
Nell’s story shares similarities with Little Orphan Annie: an abused but feisty orphan (Nell/Annie) running away from an orphanage to find her parents and strikes it good with rich people; the orphanage run by a cruel woman (Mrs Arbuthnot/Miss Hannigan) who abuses her and then takes advantage of the adoptive rich people to make money; the orphan failing to reunited with her birth parents but is adopted by the lovely rich person (Mrs Grace/Daddy Warbucks). As with Annie, Nell has no given surname (at least, not in the story), which further adds to the mystery.
But unlike Daddy Warbucks, Mrs Grace does not really want Nell. She is only taking her in because she is responsible for her and, as we ultimately discover, she is also feeling guilty about the death of Nell’s mother. Even so, she could have done a lot more to help Nell instead of making Nell feel she’s an embarrassment to the establishment and best kept out of the way. Giving scruffy, plain Nell a makeover, particularly after she discovers Nell’s hands are beautiful, would have gone a long way to making Nell feel a lot more confident and giving her a sense of belonging in the academy. When she finally does give Nell a makeover at the end of the story, ugly duckling Nell has turned into such a swan the readers would be hard put to recognise her.
Nell is surrounded by snobby girls who look down on her because she’s rough and common. Being an outcast in a posh place because you’re not posh is a common thing in girls’ comics, but in Nell’s case it is even more heart-breaking because she’s a lonely orphan who came to seek the love she craved, only to find herself in a gilded cage, in the lap of luxury, but nobody cares for her. At Sara’s house, things get even worse for Nell because even Sara has turned against her. The irony is that at the orphanage, Nell dreamed of luxury, only to find that luxury without love is meaningless. The grim orphanage becomes preferable because at least she had friends, but there is no crawling back to it.
The snobs also find it suspicious as to why Mrs Grace has her at all. When they find out Nell’s orphanage background, they are not surprised to find out it is a form of charity. Nell does not like the charity either. This is not just because it hurts her pride; it’s also because it’s not what she wants. She wants the love and caring she believes she should be getting from the woman she thinks is her mother. But why the hell isn’t she getting it? She feels so let down, which adds to her misery.
Nell’s rough reactions to the snobbishness against her, borne of the toughness she developed in the orphanage, are not endearing the people at the academy to her. And in some ways, Nell’s tough conduct is making things worse for her. It does give the impression she is too tough, maybe even delinquent. So, when things Nell does keep going wrong, it is all too easy for even Sara to get the idea Nell is a bad lot. But to the reader, Nell’s feistiness is admirable. She has beans and backbone while most protagonists in girls’ comics tend to take things in silence.
Sara could almost be in the role of Sandy the dog, Annie’s faithful friend. But unlike Sandy, Sara is not doing much to help Nell beyond being her only pillar of support in the academy. And she isn’t that much of a pillar of support or a friend either. In fact, Nell does more to help Sara (or at least tries to) than the other way around. It is not until the very end that Sara at last seriously helps Nell and becomes a real friend.
In some ways Sara is a sympathetic character; her snobby mother is forcing her to give up riding, just because she disapproves of it. To do so, she drags Sara off the beauty academy, which Sara quite understandably hates. We have seen similar things in girls’ comics time over, such as “Battle of the Wills” from Jinty. And in the end, riding wins out.
But Sara has one serious problem – she is selfish. She is too absorbed with Mister Flicker and cares for nothing and nobody but him. As a result, she is not thinking of others, which limits her ability to make friendships because she is too selfish to reciprocate them. The way she keeps getting Nell to help her carry on riding against orders is on the verge of taking advantage of her.
Sara has to learn that riding is not everything. It takes shock treatment, which Sara gets at the final episode, to make her realise this. In the end, Sara is still riding, but she is doing it in a more sharing and caring manner at the new orphanage, and showing that she is now looking beyond herself and riding. Mrs Grace is now looking beyond her narrow horizons too, and putting her efforts into something really caring and loving as well as giving Nell the love she has been expecting for so long.
Barracuda Bay ends this week. The villainous Kane gets caught in his own explosion, and our heroes barely manage to escape the tidal wave caused by it. Susan, who had started her story all thirsting for adventure and getting out of the office, now decides she’s had more than enough adventure.
In Slaves of the Candle, Lyndy manages to stop Mrs Tallow spotting the evidence of an escape, but the cost is Mrs Tallow’s revenge for getting dye all over her clothes. This takes the form of forcing Lyndy to go into hives for beeswax and risking stings. What’s more, the bees are in a very nasty mood. Talk about killer bees!
Just when Janie thought she’d got rid of that horror Hettie High and Mighty – their parents take it into their heads to get married. Now Janie’s got Hettie for a stepsister. Arghh!
Talk about double disaster. Solveig and Per, freshly liberated from a Nazi concentration camp, are forced to take shelter in an abandoned one. Trouble is, their old enemy Sergeant Strang from their own camp has the same idea, and then Grendelsen catches up again. So now the children are up against both Grendelsen and Sergeant Strang!
Ping-Pong Paula gets revenge on Myra Glegg, the spiteful girl who’s been playing tricks on her. She beats Myra in a table tennis tournament, and then Myra gets kicked out of the boarding house when the landlady catches her ripping up Paula’s photos. So that’s one problem less for Paula, but there is still the matter of how to sort out her quarrelling parents. So far that looks like achieving world peace – hopeless.
The next ingredient required for the antidote to Miss Marvell’s death dust is damask roses. As usual, Miss Marvell throws obstacles in the way of Yvette and Lucy, and she isn’t through when they finally reach the roses. There’s an angry bull bearing down on them!
In Finleg the Fox, the evidence is mounting up that the unpleasant Mr Dray was involved in a train robbery and the money Una found is the stash. Meanwhile, Dora hatches a nasty plan to poison Finleg!
Hazel’s mountaincraft course is in a real mess. She was so distracted by whatever’s haunting her that she left her mountain climbing party on the mountain. Ooops!
Katie the Jinx is the hobby horse in a Morris dancing charity event. She would find herself being chased by a showjumping horse who wants her toffee apple and end up straight in the lake. At least the hijinks are so hilarious they make a lot of money for the event.
Nell’s search for the woman who might be her mother leads her to a beauty academy, but she is stuck on how to introduce herself. What’s more, she isn’t exactly a beauty. At least the horrible Mrs Arbuthnot doesn’t know she’s escaped from the orphanage and the police aren’t searching for her yet, but it can only a matter of time…
Dot’s back and trying her hand at juggling. She ends up as the one being juggled, by dolphins.
The Jinty & Lindy merger is in its second week. Lyndy Lagtree is determined to escape from Mrs Tallow’s House of Candles despite being framed by her for theft and now the most wanted person in London. Her first attempt fails, but she picks up a vital clue about the racket. Unfortunately Mrs Tallow is on the verge of discovering this, so Lyndy has to think of something fast! Meanwhile, Nell’s escape from Mrs Arbuthnot’s horrible orphanage is more successful. So far, no problems, and she’s landed on her feet in a cake shop. Can Nell keep one step ahead Mrs Arbuthnot, the cruel matron who can lie her way out of anything?
In “Song of the Fir Tree”, Solveig and Per have made their way to a more savoury orphanage, but they are forced to go on the run again when Grendelsen catches up. Unfortunately this causes another missed opportunity to reunite with their father.
Hazel’s just about reached the end of her rope with her haunting, but now it’s taking another turn in a churchyard. Will it be for the better or worse?
Miss Marvell breaks the hearts of everyone in the community when she uses her death dust to destroy valuable trees that were memorials to fallen soldiers. The water lily is next on the list for the antidote to Miss Marvell’s death dust. Easy to find, but not easy to obtain with her around!
In the two running stories that came over from Lindy, Hettie High and Mighty is proving herself just as slick as Mrs Arbuthnot. She is playing so foully on the hockey field that poor Janie has taken a nasty crack on the head. Then Janie finds out Hettie is doing it all on purpose after switching their names with the reporters watching the match. So she will get the blame for what Hettie did! In the other story, Finleg the Fox, Una finds a stash of money in his den. It could only be stolen money, but who stole it, and what does it have to do with the stranger who’s been found dead?
In “Barracuda Bay”, our heroes escape the villainous Kane’s underwater base thanks to a timely earthquake. But now they face a tidal wave set off by the explosives he set to destroy his base. This move has also rebounded on Kane, whose getaway submarine got jammed in the door from the quake.
Myra Glegg has been playing rotten tricks on Ping-Pong Paula, but at least Paula now knows why – Myra is her latest ping-pong rival. Showdown time.
You would think babysitting a pot plant couldn’t be any trouble. Not when the damn thing is so big it reaches the ceiling, has very fussy demands, and the Jinx from St Jonah’s is in charge of it!
Translations/reprints: Girl Picture Story Library #4 as “The Dolphin Mystery”; Translated into Dutch as “De lachende dolfijn” (The laughing dolphin) in Tina 1987.
Paula and her best friend Chris are on a school archaeological scuba-diving expeditition at a submerged Roman town in the Mediterranean. Raymond Gould represents the company funding the expedition and Miss Watson is the teacher leading it. However, there is some hint of locals being opposed to the expedition because they perceive it as a threat to their lifestyle. They don’t like the local dolphins either, regarding them as pests to their lobster fishing.
At their first dive, Paula and Chris are delighted to befriend a dolphin. The dolphin starts helping the expedition, and he can somehow disappear and reappear again. They name the dolphin Dolphus and know him by a scar on his head. With Dolphus’ help they make their first find, though it’s only a piece of bicycle wheel.
However, the girls soon discover they have an enemy as well: Mrs Ormerod-Keynes, a creepy lady who lives alone in a creepy house. She owns the land the school is built on (and half the town) and wants to shut down the expedition because it is making too much noise for her liking. Miss Watson is seriously worried about this and they hope a serious archaeological find will make Mrs Ormerod-Keynes reconsider. With Dolphus’ help they find it: Roman pottery with a dolphin emblem and sketches of what could be Roman ruins. Mrs Ormerod-Keynes is not impressed with the finds, but is surprisingly impressed when Paula stands up to her. For the moment she backs off. As they leave Mrs Ormerod-Keynes’ house, Paula notices something odd about Mr Gould: he was keen to tackle Mrs Ormerod-Keynes but was not interested in the find they made or showing it to the museum curator, who thinks it looks promising.
The other girls get fed up with the expedition, leaving Chris and Paula to tackle the third dive alone. With Dolphus’ help they find a submerged Roman road, but again Mr Gould shows no interest. Instead, he shows them a new piece of equipment he has just developed to help the expedition. It can take samples from the seabed.
Their boatman was always difficult, and now he flatly refuses to let his boat be used for the expedition any further. He lets them use his dinghy, but now they’re on their own. Mr Gould’s gadget, along with Dolphus’ assistance, helps things along with putting markers down below and collecting samples. But then the current sweeps Chris away. Dolphus saves her, but they have to leave the samples behind. On the surface, Mr Gould is downright callous when he hears the girls lost their samples because they ran into trouble, calling it a whole day wasted.
The museum curator is now excited about the finds the girls are making and runs a newspaper article about it. This has the unexpected effect of enraging Mrs Ormerod-Keynes (over more disturbed peace) and the locals (over their lobster fishing). However, the article has an expert on Roman remains, Professor Potts, all excited, and he wants to take a closer look at the dish.
But the dish has mysteriously disappeared, and they can only conclude someone stole it. The girls go back to retrieve the samples, but find them gone too. They find one sample that got dropped, and then go to investigate the other boats to find any evidence about who might be behind it. They soon find evidence on one boat, but their enemy locks them in and then sails the boat out to be wrecked on the rocks. Dolphus sees them and goes for help on the shore. The locals regard Dolphus as a pest and just throw rocks at him, but Miss Watson is more perceptive and asks a fisherman to help. They rescue the girls in the nick of time. The fisherman says the boat definitely does not belong to one of them.
The girls explain what happened. Miss Watson dives to the site to check things out for herself and finds something. She won’t say who she suspects but goes to arrange a meeting with the person. The girls meet Professor Potts by themselves, who is still impressed with things even though the dish has vanished. But Miss Watson has not returned and the girls get worried. They narrow down the suspects to Mrs Ormerod-Keynes, so they head to her house to do some investigating. At a stable on her property they find a trapdoor. It leads down to an underground sea cavern.
Then Paula falls into the water and Chris can’t get her out. Dolphus turns up to keep eye on Paula, which reveals the cave connects to the open sea and how Dolphus was able to pull those disappearing tricks; the cave was a short cut. Chris goes to Mrs Ormerod-Keynes’ house for help. But when they come back, there is no sign of Paula. Mrs Ormerod-Keynes says the place is her family’s old smugglers’ cave, and now it’s brought another death on her family conscience.
Actually, Dolphus showed Paula how to get out of the cavern and back to the shore. On a cliff, Paula finds Miss Watson, who is badly injured on the ledge. Chris and Mrs Ormerod-Keynes follow and help to rescue Miss Watson.
Miss Watson explains that Mr Gould is behind everything. He was using the expedition to investigate valuable mineral deposits behind his company’s back, but hadn’t counted on the girls making a serious archaeological find. This would attract unwanted publicity, which would threaten his scheme. When Miss Watson confronted him, she refused to go halves with him, so he pushed her off the ledge. The only evidence proving his guilt is the dolphin dish he stole, which he is going to throw back into the sea. The girls, Mrs Ormerod-Keynes’ servant Smithers and a fisherman give chase. They see Mr Gould try to throw the dish into the sea, but Dolphus retrieves it. The fisherman is so impressed at this that he’ll tell the other fishermen to leave the dolphins in peace. Mr Gould is soon rounded up.
Mrs Ormerod-Keynes is very happy to join the victory celebration. The dish will go to the British Museum, who will take over the expedition. The headmistress adopts the dolphin as the school emblem.
“The Disappearing Dolphin” must have been a very popular story with readers. Probably not one of Jinty’s classics, but it has everything to make it enjoyable with any reader: adventure, intrigue, mystery, a creepy lady living in a creepy house, saboteurs, scuba-diving, the lovely Trini Tinturé artwork – always guaranteed to sell a story – and above all, an adorable dolphin. Who doesn’t love a dolphin that just has you go “awwwww”?
All right, maybe those fishermen who see dolphins as pests and even throw rocks at them – what a horrible thing to do to dolphins! We rather suspect poor Dolphus got that scar on his head from a rock thrown at him. If the fishermen learned to make friends with the dolphins as the girls did, everyone would be a whole lot more happy, for Dolphus shows that dolphins are intelligent, friendly creatures. In the end that is what happens, and we can imagine things will be a whole lot better for the fishermen as well as the dolphins.
The story moves at an effective pace: strong but no rushing, so there’s time for character and plot development. It is brilliant with creating the red herrings and the list of suspects, especially the character of Mrs Ormerod-Keynes. She’s a creepy witch type all right. One look at her sinister-looking house that stands alone on a cliff and you instantly think there’s some hidden secret in there, one she doesn’t want revealed, and it’s the real reason why she’s so opposed to the expedition. It turns out her house does hold a secret, but it relates to an entirely different mystery in the story – Dolphus’ disappearing tricks. The reason for Mrs Ormerod-Keynes and the fishermen’s opposition was what it was, and it was an adeptly handled misdirection from the clues that pointed to the real culprit – Raymond Gould. His plot was brilliant, and marooning the girls to be smashed on the rocks showed what he was capable of. His weakness was not being a good actor. He let his true attitude about the expedition filter through too much instead of maintaining a convincing act of a genuine supporter. The girls pick up on his odd behaviour but fail to realise it is a clue.
We also get a salutary lesson in patience and persistence, both of which are essential qualities in archaeology. The other girls get fed up with the expedition too readily and turn to other school activities. By contrast, Chris and Paula persist, not only in the prospect of it possibly turning tedious but in the obstacles from the locals and their mystery enemy as well. And their efforts are well rewarded, far more than if they had quit like the other girls. They certainly have what it takes to be archaeologists.
“Heap big Injun trouble for Gertie Grit” says the cover. Heap big trouble for the Injuns more like, knowing our Gertie. Sure enough, she unwittingly causes another historical catastrophe, which in this case is Custer’s Last Stand. And it’s all because Custer put her on KP duty.
“Jassy’s Wand of Power” and “Sisters at War!” both end this week. The drought breaks when the power plant that’s causing it is shut down. Blimey, it’s been so long since a rainfall that Jassy’s little friend Mark doesn’t even realise what it is when it finally falls! Well, Jassy can retire her water-divining rod now. Story artist Keith Robson moves on to a new serial next week. Meanwhile, the sisters are still at war with constant arguing, but their uncle has decided he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Another story ended last issue, but nothing new starts this week. Instead, we have a full page informing us that three stories start next week. We just love it when we have a nice big run of several stories starting at once.
Meanwhile, poor Daisy has to do ironing with a broken bone in her hand (and it doesn’t look like that hand is getting any medical attention – ooh, that horrible household!). But Daisy finds a way to get the ironing done despite her hand and is surprised to be rewarded with a cat brooch. Unfortunately the other servants are still mean to her, and that brooch has made them jealous too. If only Daisy could see what Maud has learned about dealing with nasty types who bully servants – throw water all over them.
In “Is This Your Story?”, Freda has a bad habit of telling lies, but she gets caught out when she tries to pull a fast one over her teacher. She spends a horrible weekend dreading what punishment awaits her on Monday, which could be expulsion. What is teach going to do?
Ouch! Rose gets a faceful of stings while foiling the Thornes’ latest scheme this week. Gran’s herbal remedies sort out the stings, but then the bryony blooms – which is a warning of disaster. Sounds like the story is about to reach its climax.
Groan…not even Stefa’s own birthday softens her “heart of stone”. She throws all the presents she gets in the faces of everyone who gave them to her. Stefa, the day will come when you look back on this birthday with deep regret. Later in the episode, Stefa finds it’s going to be a lot harder to steer clear of Ruth – her parents are inviting Ruth over to their house and going to parents’ night to see her work. Stefa thinks it’s a cheek; she is their daughter, not Ruth. Huh, considering the way you’re carrying on with your folks, you’re the one who’s got a cheek, Stefa!
Helen manages to break free of Miss Vaal and shut her in the bubble for a change. On the advice of her teacher she goes home to tell her parents what’s going on. The very parents who never once visited her while she was in the bubble, come to think of it.
Alley Cat borrows a library book on how to “nab nosh”, but everything backfires and he ends up having to exchange it for a first aid book.
In Jinty’s fireworks issue for 1976, Gertie Grit does the honours when her time-travelling gets her caught up in the Gunpowder Plot itself (below). Funny – the biggest fireworks of this historical event seem to come from Druid Caractacus.
Gertie isn’t the only one in the issue getting a taste of the Tower of London. That’s where Jassy is about to be sent to as well. It’s the fate of all those who claim to have psychic ability in this drought-stricken story.
The Thornes’ latest trick is play “ghost” to get their hands on the magistrate’s property, but Rose’s gran turns the tables by scaring the Thornes with the same ruse. Halloween was last week, you Thornes!
Ruth finds out the reason for “Stefa’s Heart of Stone” and starts a “Melt Stefa” campaign with her classmates to soften it. But from the looks of things, not even global warming would “melt Stefa”. However, jealousy is proving more effective; Stefa gets her nose put out of joint when her parents start treating Ruth like their very own daughter.
Mandy in this week’s “Is This Your Story?” doesn’t want to share her brother with a girlfriend. She breaks them up, but her brother’s reaction isn’t what she expected. Her conscience pricks up and she gets them back together.
In “Daisy Drudge and Milady Maud”, Maud finds a friend in a servant at the finishing school while Daisy can’t in the cruel household she has ended up in. The household is on holiday in the country and Daisy seizes another chance to escape. Unfortunately they catch up (again), and Daisy breaks a bone in her hand in the process. And nobody, not even the servants, has an ounce of sympathy for her there. Rather, they all laugh at what great sport it’s been chasing her.
“Champion in Hiding” ends this week. It turns out nasty Aunt Shirley and Mrs Blackmoor were in cahoots to stop Mitzi and Firefly from winning the dog championship, but win they do. Mrs Blackmoor’s furious and won’t pay Aunt Shirley because she failed, so Aunt Shirley is punished by ending up with nothing.
Helen’s back in the bubble and the sinister Miss Vaal manages to forestall Helen’s art teacher when she makes enquiries into what’s going on. Then Helen makes a bold move with the black book she stole from Miss Vaal to help her make a rush for freedom. Will it work?
In “Sisters at War!”, Uncle Jason runs away from hospital and camps out in hiding although he’s not well. Mum is furious when she finds out Sue has been helping to hide him though she knows about his condition.
Spotty Muchloot and Alley Cat have another battle, this time with toffee. Well, we always knew Spotty was stuck-up.
We fill another October gap here. As the cover indicates, it is the start of a new serial, “Gertie Grit the Hateful Brit!”, but one thing puzzles me about it: why does the cover show Gertie Grit with long green sleeves when in fact she has bare arms?
Inside, Jinty seems to be paying Halloween some early homage with Alley Cat, who has a dream about a witch turning him into a worm. He gets used as fish bait, but the spell wears off in time for him to catch fish of his own. When he wakes up he really does catch fish, which have fallen off the back of a lorry.
In the first episode of “Gertie Grit, the Hateful Brit!”, Gertie hails from Roman Britain. There’s a definite Flintstones feel about Gertie’s home environment, but we don’t get much chance to see it before she steals a magic time-travel pendant from Druid Caractacus. Off she goes, and her first stop in time is the boudoir of Helen of Troy. Though it hardly looks it, Gertie’s is the face that launches the fabled 1000 ships when she mucks about with Helen’s makeup. Gertie then discovers Caractacus is following her through time to get his pendant back, but she isn’t going to let him do it that easily. And so the pattern is set for the rest of the episodes to follow. We are informed that Gertie meets Nell Gwynn in the next issue. Pity poor Nell…
In “Stefa’s Heart of Stone”, Stefa is trying to turn her heart into stone after losing her best friend Joy, which for everyone is more like “Stefa’s head of stupidity”. Stefa’s now trying to get herself expelled to get away from Ruth Graham, the girl who looks almost like Joy. However, Ruth keeps foiling Stefa’s attempts to do so. You’re not getting rid of Ruth that easily, Stefa!
In Victorian times, Lady Daisy de Vere and a skivvy named Maud have accidentally switched lives. Maud is taking advantage of a posh finishing school (shades of My Fair Lady), and this week she is trying to cover the fact that she’s barely literate by pretending to have an injured hand. Meanwhile, Daisy attempts to run from the horrible downstairs life she has landed in, but she gets recaptured, brutally beaten, and then chained to a kitchen range until she’s finished cleaning it.
Hugh Thornton-Jones is doing double duty as filler artist for “Champion in Hiding” and “The Jinx from St Jonah’s”. In the former, Firefly foils some sheep rustlers but gets badly hurt, and cruel Aunt Shirley is still a real slavedriver to our protagonist Mitzi. In the latter, Katie attempts to reconcile a quarrelsome couple who keep breaking off their engagement. It succeeds, but in an extremely weird way that leaves us all scratching our heads along with Katie.
Helen Ryan escapes from the bubble she was kept in for lack of germ resistance and even joins an art class. But then she feels horribly ill. Maybe she should have stayed in the bubble after all? Meanwhile, Miss Vaal discovers Helen has escaped and says “she will have to take the consequences”. Now that sounds very, very ominous…
In “Rose among the Thornes”, motorcycle roughs are raising hell in the village, and Rose discovers the Thornes are behind it in a scheme to shut down a café. She manages to foil that scheme but knows the Thornes will have another brewing soon.
Jassy discovers Mr Danby is taking advantage of her water-dowsing powers to extort payment and goods out of drought-stricken people. Her response is to walk out on Danby, but then she jumps from the frying-pan into the fire. She gets captured by Sir Harmer Jeffreys, the man in charge of the power plant. He’s heard the gossip about her and Danby, and whatever he’s got in mind for her does not sound promising.
Another extortionist threatens Sue, one of the “Sisters at War”. Sue gives in to his demands to meet him, but the blackmailer reckons without Uncle Jason. Uncle manages to deal to the blackmailer but then collapses with a heart condition. He swears Sue to secrecy. Then sister Sylvia jumps to the wrong conclusion about what happened and it’s “sisters at war” again.