William at War by Richmal Crompton

There were quite a lot of children’s books that I didn’t get around to reading until I had children of my own, I think I went on to reading books for adults at quite an early age. I caught up with a lot of them when I had kids of my own and read Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, the Narnia books and lots more as my boys were growing up, but still I avoided reading Richmal Crompton’s books.

So when Niranjana (Brown Paper) mentioned that she had the full collection of Just William books I began to think that maybe I had missed out on something good. Niranjana appreciates E.F.Benson’s Mapp and Lucia books – always a good sign I think!

So I’ve started off with William at War, which as Niranjana said, seems to have been cobbled together from Crompton’s other Just William books. I did enjoy all the scrapes that William Brown gets into, always with the best of intentions really. I read an Enid Blyton book earlier in the year just to see how I felt about her writing nowadays and I have to say that compared with the Malory Towers book which I read, Crompton’s writing is much better. I think the vocabulary is much wider, even although William does seem to be saying ‘jolly’ and ‘ole’ constantly.

But I can see why I avoided the books for so long. It was just too much like real life for me as a youngster but now it’s quite a nostalgia trip. As the youngest of five children my nearest sibling in age was my brother William who is five years older than me, and although he wasn’t born until the 1950s he was just exactly like William Brown as a wee boy. So he was a complete nightmare as a big brother. Especially as he didn’t seem to have a rival gang of ‘Outlaws’ to torment – so I took the brunt of it all.

This book brought it all back – catapults, peashooters, bows and arrows and all. My brother’s catapult was a heavy metal thing with industrial strength rubber and he could quite easily have killed somebody (me) with it.

I’m pretty sure that my brother William didn’t read these books but he did balance a bucket of water on top of my half-open bedroom door once and of course when I pushed the door open I was drenched with cold water and hit by the bucket. William Brown planned to do this in the book too. But all such nonsense didn’t stop my brother William from being very much my mother’s favourite.

Spookily I resembled the characeter Violet Elizabeth Bott as a child with my red hair and even a lisp, and annoyingly I still have a lisp, which I hate but I’m quite happy with the red hair.

Now it’s just a laugh and my brother and I get on really well together so I can look back with pleasure. I’ve got another ten Just William books to read through now.