Down with St. Desmond’s / Out to Ruin St. Roslyn’s

  • Down With St. Desmond’s! –  Bunty: #1030 (8 October 1977) – #1051 (4 March 1978)
  • Reprinted –  Bunty:   #1604 (08 October 1988) – #1625 (04 March 1988)
  • Reprinted as Out to Ruin St. Roslyn’s –  Lucky Charm # 10 (1981)
  • Artist:  Robert MacGillivray

Plot

Carol-Anne Brabazon arrives to St. Desmond’s (or St. Roslyn’s in the reprint) in a wheelchair and is befriended by Shelagh and Lorna. But Carol Anne is not all she seems, it turns out she is only pretending to be disabled and is actually there to ruin the school and get revenge on the people she believes wronged her mother 20 years previously. Her mother, Carol Annan, was accused of stealing, cheating and general bad behaviour leading to her expulsion. Apparently just after Carol Anne was born, her mother died broken hearted about her past. So Carol Anne tracks down a photo of the 1950 lacrosse team that her mother was part of and starts to take her revenge on the team-mates she feels are responsible for her mother’s death. Pretending to be in a wheelchair allows her to get around unsuspectingly and she is given a room of her own on the ground floor. She starts to damage the school’s reputation and stirs up trouble with the pupils.

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Her first target is Miss Broadley, an ex-team mate of her mother’s and now the school librarian. Carol Anne, steals a valuable book, sells it off and frames Miss Broadley for it, getting her fired. She then causes the daughter of another team-mate to fall, and she loses her chance to play with the county.  Mrs. Tranter the tuck-shop owner has suspicions about Carol Anne and as a long member of the school she also remembers Carol Annan. She tries to help Miss Broadley offering her a place to stay and enquires about C.A. s records. Carol Anne overhearing her questions, destroys the files in a fire. When Lorna finds muddy shoes in Carol Anne’s wardrobe, she also gets suspicious of her and isn’t convinced by her stories. Carol Anne can’t have Lorna nosing around so manages to get Lorna suspended for cheating. Which serves two purposes as Lorna’s mother is one of the people on her revenge list. Lorna’s not the only person that has noticed something strange about Carol Anne, Miss Gowan the games mistress is also beginning to investigate her.

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When Lorna later returns to the school with her mother, they along with  Tranter, Broadley and Gowan discuss their suspicions. They are too late in stopping Carol Anne getting the head girl Diane expelled, with the help of a hypnotist. They ask Shelagh for help to try and expose Carol Anne. Shelagh isn’t convinced that Carol Anne isn’t as nice as she seems, but when her trap backfires she sides with Lorna and the others.  Diane and her mother joins the group in trying to expose Carol Anne. She says that Carol Annan is still alive, and Carol Anne angrily jumps out of her chair in denying this. Although she is now exposed as a fraud, she still isn’t going anywhere. She threatens to sue the school if they expel her and after all the trouble they’ve had, the school wouldn’t be able to survive it.

The old girls set up a lacrosse match with the old 1950 team, including Carol Annan. Carol Anne is shocked that her mother is not only alive, but was never falsely accused of the things done at the school. It turns out her father didn’t want to tell her the truth, that Carol abandoned her and was afraid that he would lose Carol Anne if he told her the truth. The match goes ahead but at tea in the tuck shop afterwards, the ground gives away and an unexploded bomb is discovered leaving them trapped.  Carol Anne with help from her father (formerly part of a bomb disposal unit but now with damaged hands) defuses the bomb saving the school. She leaves the school dismissing her mother on her way.

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Thoughts

The plot could be summarised as “a girl pretends to be somebody she is not, to bring down the people she believes wronged and caused the death of a parent” and that same summary would fit fine with the current popular American show “Revenge”.  Even the protagonists crossing out the faces on a picture as she destroys someone is used in both. Certainly this type of story isn’t new and has been done a lot but it goes to show that it is still as popular today as it was back then.

This is a good revenge story, there are some stretches of belief needed such as the use of the hypnotist and the bomb, but it is well done. I like how Clare Ann brings people down in the similar ways she believes her mother has been wronged, for example her mother was accused of stealing a book and that is how she frames Miss Broadley.  I also like that when she is found out, she stays on in the school being openly antagonistic. That was well done instead of trying to wrap everything up at once, like most stories do when a troublemaker is exposed. Although I think the school would be better off risking being sued than keeping her around!

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While she does save the school in the end, she never actually turns around and apologises for her previous actions, which is also good to see her not have a complete change in personality. She comes across as a complex character and there is no sudden magic way to make her nice after all the hate and resentment that she she built-up over the years. She does show she had some affection for her friends, when Lorna nearly discovers her secret Carol Anne is tempted to keep her quiet with violence, but she quickly reconsiders as Lorna has been good to her. It is a really good story and well executed, there is a nice build up and the ending isn’t rushed after her exposure. MacGillivray’s art is as good as always, particularly with Carol Anne’s expressions.

9 thoughts on “Down with St. Desmond’s / Out to Ruin St. Roslyn’s

  1. Revenge stories nearly always have the avenger targeting an innocent person because they were misinformed, jumped to the wrong conclusion, were being irrational, or didn’t get their facts straight. This one is no exception.There are some of course, such as When Harry Dumped Sally, also from Bunty.

    After re-reading the ending I wonder why on earth the father married the mother in the first place. And if he wants to conceal the truth about Carol’s mother, why doesn’t he just say she died in a crash or something? And would Carol have turned out differently if her father had not fed her those lies about the school, or did she inherit her mother’s personality and not been a very nice person anyway!

    1. Yes I did wonder why the father painted St. Desmonds in such a bad light, he seems like a very weak willed person. Carol Annan was an actress, so maybe he fell for her innocence act and then wasn’t strong enough to stand up to her. It’s possible that Carol had told him the false story of the school first and when she left, he repeated the story to Carol-Anne (adding the dying part). Then he helps Carol Anne with her revenge scheme for fear of losing her if he told her the truth, so I think with both Carols he tends to go along with whatever they say.

      1. The father being so weak willed must be one reason why Carol Snr was attracted to him – so easy to take advantage of and putty in her hands. She may have married him for money as I don’t see how a person like her can love anyone. She is clearly still the same old nasty piece of work that was expelled from the school, and probably other schools as well.

      2. Weird. If the father is a weak-willed man, how come he was able to work with bomb disposal in his prime? He can risk his life to dispose of bombs, but he does not have the guts to stand up to his wife and daughter. He is far more scared of losing his daughter than he is of working with bombs. I guess it’s because people can be so courageous one way but so scared another.

  2. Carol Jnr clearly has inherited her mother’s personality. I don’t know how she would have turned out if her father had not brought her up to hate St Desmonds, but I bet was not very popular in her previous schools.

  3. I remember casually picking up my little sister’s BUNTY comic years ago and becoming transfixed with this particular story arc! Superb stuff! Just wondering if anyone knows where I couls purchase this tale? would love to re-visit this one!

  4. A mere detail but the school in the Lucky Charm version is St Roslyn’s not St Rosyln’s. Corrections needed in the heading and the text summary.

    1. I wonder why they changed the name of the school and title in the Lucky Charm reprint? Yes, I know changing titles in reprints is not unusual.

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