Category Archives: Judy

Polly of Pickpocket Row [1984]

  • Polly of Pickpocket Row – Judy PSL: #250 [1984]
  • Reprinted –  Bunty PSL: #432 [1997]

Plot

In the 19th century, Polly Pickles is left alone after her mother’s death, and gets no respite as the landlord immediately kicks her out of her home and takes all the furniture to pay for rent owed. She escapes the parish Beadle who wants to take her to the workhouse orphanage, but with no where to go she has to stay on the streets. Hungry, she offers to work for a baker for some food but he only shoves her away, dropping a loaf of bread in the process. In desperation she grabs the loaf but the baker chases her.Her first bit of luck is she runs into a lady who pies for the bread, claiming Polly was bringing it to her and then offers Polly a home. The lady Miss Darby, brings her to a nice home with lots of other children, she calls her home a school and tells her she has already made a good start in her lessons. Polly is shocked when she realises that Miss Darby means it is a school for thieves!

Miss Darby tells her they only steal from the rich and it is all for a good cause. She brings her out for her first lesson with two other girls Emily and Matilda. They are all dressed up, so no-one would mistake them for common urchin thieves. Miss Darby tells Polly it is important to look respectable, and the girls certainly use this when the steal from a woman and slip the purse to Miss Darby and are out of sight before the woman realises what has happened. Polly gets her first task when Harry steals a watch from a captain. Miss Darby realising he is a good man that rescued people from a shipwreck, gets Polly to return the watch. She does this by knocking some books and when he bends over to help pick them up she pretends he must have dropped his watch. With this being a success, it’s time for Polly to do the reverse and Miss Darby asks her who is deserving to be robbed. She chooses Mr Grice the sweatshop owner where her mother use to work dressmaking. She is nearly caught but Miss Darby’s intervention helps her escape, but then she runs into the Beadle. Luckily again her new family are looking out for her and Harry helps her escape. Polly hopes to share Mr Grice’s money with his worker’s but Miss Darby tells her it would raise too many suspicions and she has a better use for the money.

Seems someone has been keeping an eye on Miss Darby’s operation, Ned Griffin, a thief himself, he is not fooled by their “respectable” looks. He confronts Polly and Harry, they manage to give him the slip, but he is still hanging around the street where they live as he suspects their base is around there. As he is not familiar with Emily and Matilda, they approach him then frame him for stealing their jewelry, calling to police for help. He runs away and the police take chase, and though he was trying to blackmail them, the children are still upset when he fall in front of a train and is killed.

Miss Darby is still away but Harry takes Polly on a job. Polly is to distract Lord Lester while playing with hoop while Harry takes a case of money. The men figure out she is an accomplice and take her prisoner in hopes to exchange her for the money. Polly isn’t going to passively take this, there seems to be no escape from room, but she hides in chimney making them think she has escaped then runs out. Lester and his men are soon after her, but they are met by Miss Darby and the police! She claims Lester kidnapped her niece, she will let the matter drop if he gives donation to charity. Harry admires her nerve with her convincing everyone she is a respectable lady, though Darby counters that is exactly what she is. The next day she shows them where the money has gone to – building a home for unwanted children, they will no longer have to steal and she wants only happy days for all of them from now on.

Thoughts

It is nice to see this story has a happy ending and Miss Darby’s motives were sincere. Many of these kind of stories would have the protagonist tricked and used by the “kindly” benefactor. At the start Miss Darby does seem genuine, and her return of the captain’s watch seems like she has her own morality code, but the reader might still be cautious, perhaps she is just lulling Polly into false security, especially as some of her actions seem suspicious. Such as not wanting to share the money with workers and going away on secret trips. Luckily it is her charges she has in mind and the people she robbed aren’t ones that would earn our sympathy.

It’s easy to see how Polly is lured into this world, the welcoming Miss Darby, the nice clothes and food and warm house. Her career as thief is slowly built as she progresses from returning an item, to robbing from someone she knows is deserving of it, to stealing from a stranger. The set up of having them all look respectable certainly makes their activities easier. While there is not one villain in the story, there are several antagonists that Polly has to outwit, all at different social levels. Firstly the Beadle, who pops up twice to try and take Polly, he is in authority to do his job, but the orphanage would be worst than a jail sentence for Polly and even when she has a home, he still pursues her not believing her. Then Ned, a ruffian,  who is the most dangerous as he is on to their scheme. The children feel bad about his untimely end but Ned was dangerous and was suspect in a murder himself, so a bit of karma for him to fall in front of train. Lastly there are the people they rob, Mr Lester being the most proactive, actually kidnapping Polly as he wants a chance to get his money back and he believes the police would be of no help, and he is into some shady gambling herself. Polly while she does get help from others, she can be quite proactive, maybe learning more from Darby’s “school” she is quite crafty in how she gets away from Lester. It’s nice to see Polly’s new family look out for her and it is satisfying end that she has found a home and won’t have to continue stealing to earn her keep.

 

Meg – the Hunted One

Plot

In the early 17th century, a  young girl called Meg lived alone on Exmoor. She had been brought up by an elderly woman Blind Biddy, But, when she was fourteen, Meg found herself alone after Blind Biddy had been condemned and put to death by Josh Mortiboys, a wealthy landowner, who had sworn that Meg would share the same fate. Meg had been, staying with a lawyer who had befriended her, but, one nighty Mortiboys came looking for her. She ran away over the moor from the protection of Lawyer Miller’s house and of Jack Oakley, a friendly farmer, whom Meg had helped earlier. With her pet raven and her deer, she fled across the rain-swept moorland.

Notes

  • Art: Phil Gascoine (unconfirmed)

Appeared

  • Meg – the Hunted One – Judy: #631 (12 February 1972) – #642 (29 April 1972)

Scrubcat

Plot

Born and raised in the outback of Australia, young Scrubcat Jackson had been the only one to see where nuclear rockets had landed when they had been launched in mistake by a foreign power. Her uncanny knowledge of the country had enabled Scrubcat to lead Major Chisolm, the de-fusing expert, to five of the rockets.

Notes

  • Art: Ron Smith
  • Reworked from a Wizard story of the same name, with the protagonist changed to female.

Appeared

  • Scrubcat – Judy: #631 (12 February 1972) – #650 (24 June 1972)

Peri of the Ponies

Plot

Peri Wills was a girl with a special way  with ponies. She had the chance of attending a first-class pony school and there she learnt a great deal. But through a misunderstanding, she had to leave before taking her instructor’s certificate. Her longing to be with ponies led her to take an unpaid job at a ramshackle riding school kept by Mr and Mrs Hopkins.
Peri started to groom one of the ponies.

Notes

  • Art: Ron Smith

Appeared

  • Peri of the Ponies – Judy: #559 (26 September 1970) – #573 (2 January 1971)

Turkey Trott

Plot

Two hundred years ago, Trudy Trott and her young brother, Tom, helped their grandparents drive a flock of turkeys to the big market in London. They had stayed to help Edith, a young girl who was trying to keep a little pie-shop going after the death of her mother.

Notes

Appeared

  • Turkey Trott – Judy:  #558 (19 September 1070) – #567 (21 November 1970)

Minnie the Meanie [1982]

We’re heading towards that time of year to be extra-generous to people while spending up large on gifts, holidays and other treats. But here’s a cautionary tale from Judy not to take either one to extremes. The consequences can be just as damaging as for the other extreme that we always hear about at Christmas – Scrooge. As the parents in this story found out, not even a pools win is a limitless amount of money for spending.

Published: Judy: #1153 (13 February 1982) to #1166 (15 May 1982)
Reprinted – Judy: #1564 (30 December 1989) to #1577 (31 March 1990)

Episodes: 14

Artist: Unknown artist – “Merry”

Writer: Unknown. Possibly the same writer as “Hard Times for Helen

Plot

Minnie Mill and her family live in a shabby house in Badger Street. Then they win £300,000 on the pools.

Unfortunately Mum and Dad let the whole new flush of money go to their heads and turn into super-spendthrifts. They go crazy on buying new things right, left and centre. They treat the money as if it will never cease to end and begin to lose the meaning of its value. For example, when Dad receives a letter saying there’s a back payment from his old company he scorns it because it seems like chickenfeed to what he has now and can’t be bothered collecting it. Minnie is horrified at his attitude, and she collects it herself because someone around here has to be sensible. They give no thought to investment or long-term planning at all, despite the offer – and warning – from the pools representative.

The worst of it is that Mum is a good-natured woman with a heart of gold, so it is an all-too-easy matter for the money to turn her generosity into over-generosity. Dad is just the same. And Minnie is quick to realise why the residents of Badger Street who previously took little notice of them are suddenly crowding around to be nice and friendly – they are out to take advantage of the money and the parents’ generosity. Dad soon has a well-earned reputation for spending and giving away huge handfuls of money as if it were nothing and people say he’ll give away his last penny.

Minnie is also finding that kids are taking advantage of her as well and pretending to be friendly while finding ways to cheat her out of huge sums of money. Several of these tactics are really despicable. For example, one girl, Gladdie, appears to be genuine, so Minnie trusts her with £600 to pay her mother’s rent with. When she discovers the money has in fact gone into Gladdie’s bank account, she orders her to pay the money to charity – or else. Another girl, Ida, cons Minnie out of money that was supposed to go on replenishing her grandmother’s empty coal cellar. When Minnie finds out, she helps to replenish the cellar secretly. Even a girl who is far richer than Minnie cheats her out of money.

Minnie reckons she has no friends anymore; the ones she had have joined the bullies who shout “Minnie the Meanie!” at her. Only one girl, Rosie, seems to be a friend. But by now Minnie has been so badly burned she just can’t trust anyone.

Because of all this cadging and cheating, Minnie becomes afraid to display her generosity openly and with the gay abandon that the parents do. She resorts to doing it in secret, and where she sees it is going to a genuine cause, such as replenishing the grandmother’s coal supply or getting treatment for a sick dog.

Minnie also starts saving any money she can get her hands on (including Dad’s unwanted back payment) because she realises their money will run out because of their careless spending, and a reserve will be required for when this happens. This and not displaying her generosity openly give the impression that she is turning into a miser, a reputation she believes she must cultivate in order to protect her parents’ money as best she can. The people of Badger Street start to bully and jeer at her, calling her “Minnie the Meanie!” in the street. This causes misunderstandings with her parents, who think she is turning into a miser too. So they don’t listen when she tries to tell them that people are taking advantage of them. They just brush it off because they have lots of money anyway, so what’s the big deal?

At first the parents dismiss warning signs that they are spending too much. Dad laughs and says there’s still plenty left. They buy over a house next door (and make an overinflated offer for it!) so they can add it to their own and develop their residence in accordance with how they are rising up the social scale. Once the redevelopment is complete, Mum throws out the furnishings they only just bought when the money first arrived and buys whole new ones!

Ironically, the parents don’t even approve of Minnie saving money instead of spending it as they do and think it’s just more of her miserliness. This attitude gets really bizarre. For example, when they find out what Minnie did with the back payment, what angers them is that she saved the money instead of spending it! They are far less bothered about her taking the money herself.

Minnie’s saving causes other problems too. For example, she goes on a shopping spree, and then returns the gifts for money, which gets banked. Nasty Ella Stevens finds out and starts blackmailing her. To get Ella off her back, Minnie tells the folks herself. She then teaches Ella a lesson by compelling her to donate £20 to the Youth Club Roof Fund.

One day Dad comes in looking awfully worried. He does not say what is wrong, but Minnie guesses that Dad is paying more heed to warning signals that the money is running out. Indeed, he now becomes more wary about spending money. Strangely, Dad would still much rather have Minnie spending than saving, which she steps up of course. Meanwhile, Mum pays no attention and continues with heedless spending.

Dad getting worried about the spending prompts nasty gossip from the neighbours that the parents are getting as mean as Minnie. Despite Minnie’s protests not to give in to such bullying, Mum tries to stop the gossip by lavishing even more generosity on them.

One of the worst cases of this is when Mum takes the residents of Badger Street on an outing that includes a funfair and an expensive lunch. Dad joins in Minnie’s protests that they are spending far more than necessary on the trip, what with buying snacks for the residents on top of the lunch and giving them all spending money at the fair. Mum just tells him that he’s getting as bad as Minnie and he gives in to keep the peace. Minnie secretly cancels the lunch and temporarily hides Dad’s wallet so he can’t treat the residents elsewhere, hoping their reaction will make the parents see sense. Their reaction is to accuse the parents of pulling cheap tricks despite the other treats they provided, stalk off to find a cuppa without including the Mills, and they show they care more about a free lunch than Dad getting his wallet nicked. Dad is outraged and disgusted at this, while Mum does not open her eyes at all. However, Minnie has new hope that Dad is beginning to see things her way.

Indeed, Dad starts quarrelling with Mum over her overspending while she says he’s just a big meanie like Minnie. Minnie cannot reason with her either. Dad groans when the latest bank statement arrives, and Minnie can guess why.

All too soon the inevitable happens because of Mum’s overspending. But by the time she learns this, it’s too late – her latest spending spree has not only eaten up the last of the money but also run up an additional £29,500 in bills to pay! So they are now in huge debt and there are angry creditors on the doorstep.

Fortunately Minnie managed to save enough to clear the debts, and there is even a bit left over. The parents now understand why Minnie was saving so hard. So the next time the bullies call Minnie a meanie, Mum gives them a real piece of her mind and tells them what Minnie did for them. After this they apologise to Minnie, admit they were just jealous and how horrible they were. They also guess who the secret beneficiary was and now realise how wise Minnie was not to spend the money the way her parents did. Minnie gets her friends back and forgives their conduct. The other Badger Street residents rally around to help out once the word spreads (with a few gloating exceptions).

The parents have to find a new way to make ends meet. At Minnie’s suggestion, they use the two cars they have now and the remaining money to start a taxi business.

Thoughts

This story is so realistic because it draws on so many real-life stories that we hear about. People who go from rags to riches, only to end up in rags again. People who win vast fortunes – only to lose the lot within a few years because they handled the money badly, as the Mill parents did. People who come into a huge amount of money get taken advantage of by cadgers and false friends. Which is precisely the reason why some people who win the lotto prefer to stay quiet about it. Over-generous people losing huge amounts of money because they can’t stop giving – sometimes even when they can’t even afford to give – and cadgers taking advantage of them as well. People who found that huge wins turned sour for them and prove the old adage that money is not everything. All of it is revolving around in this story.

Through Minnie’s eyes, we see an exploration of greed and how it brings out the worst in people, even in people Minnie thought were her friends. Minnie always sees vultures swooping in on what the parents have to give away and cadgers dropping in to take advantage with sob stories and such. She also sees jealousy in people when they’re not grasping, such as nasty gossips. Jealousy is clearly behind all their nastiness towards Minnie as they were whispering she was turning into a miser well before she started on her so-called miserly conduct. At the party to celebrate the win they are gossiping that she is a miser just because she doesn’t look so happy; in fact it’s because she already suspects their cadging.

While the residents of Badger Street say Mrs Mill has a heart of gold, they do not reciprocate it in any way or show any gratitude for the things the Mill parents do for them. They don’t even give the Mill family a cup of flour when they ask for one or offer to help out when Dad loses his wallet. All they do is take, take, take from the Mill family now that they’re in the money, and they don’t give anything in return. They have a nerve calling Minnie a meanie when they are so mean themselves towards the Mill family and don’t show them any generosity. It’s not until the very end that they rediscover their kindness and give something back to the Mill family.

The story also comments on how a huge supply of money can get people to take things for granted. Dad laughs off the back payment because it looks nothing compared to his win. Mum throws out brand-new and expensive furnishings and thinks nothing of the expense of buying new ones. An expensive trolley goes when the vultures swoop on the old furnishings, but Mum dismisses it as no big deal (Dad is more horrified). Mum thinks little of a woman cadging off her because she’s got so much money anyway. The parents would never have thought that way in the days when they lived in shabby accommodation and Mum had to be a careful housekeeper because they did not have much money. Minnie never goes that way at all and is appalled at her parents’ attitude.

This story is no exception to girls’ serials where the protagonist has far more brains, common sense and perception than her parents. While the parents are so blithe to the cadging or shrug it off, Minnie can see right through it. Minnie gets victimised by the cadging too, but at least she rumbles the cadgers and does something about it wherever she can. Also, Minnie never catches the “buying disease” as her parents do and goes crazy on spending, so she is quick to realise where it is all going to lead. She is the only one to take active steps to prepare for that eventuality. Dad eventually heeds the warning signals about the impending doom, but he does not really do anything about it. He does worry and quarrels with his wife about overspending, but he does not actually tell the family what is going on or show them the bank statements. Nor did he put any remaining money into a reserve, as Minnie did.

Minnie is more assertive than many protagonists. So many of them, such as Helen Shaw from “Hard Times for Helen”, just suffer in silence and don’t speak out (until the end). But Minnie is not afraid to speak up. She constantly speaks parents about the cadging, even if they don’t listen. At times she even talks back at the cadgers and bullies.

And of course it’s all thanks to the protagonist that things do not turn out so badly for the parents in the end. If it had not been for Minnie, their stupidity, lack of foresight and heedless spending would have ruined them entirely and they would ended up even worse off than when they were to begin with. As it is, Minnie’s money and brains and Mum’s not-too-bad idea of buying a second car enable them to begin on a new business venture that keeps them from going right back to square one or even worse.

It’s a relief all around when the money goes, because it brought only trouble. But then, much of that was due to the parents handling the money badly and not heeding the advice of the pools representative. If the Mill parents get another chance at the pools, they will no doubt try to use the money more wisely.

Teacher’s Pet [1990]

  • Teacher’s Pet  – Judy: #1574 (10 March 1990) – #1583 (12 May 1990)
  • Artist: Julio Bosch (Martin Puigagut?)

Plot

Anna Norman gets on well in school until the arrival of a new teacher Miss Johnstone. Her new form teacher, starts favouring her immediately, earning Anna the name of “Teacher’s Pet” from her classmates. Even when Anna tries to get in trouble it makes things worse, such as when she is late to class she expects to be punished, like her other classmates were, but “Stoney” Johnstone just lets her away with it, and everyone else just thinks Anna’s taking advantage. When it comes time to elect a form captain Johnstone makes it clear that she thinks Anna has the right qualities for the job and commiserates with her when she lose out to Lucy. No amount of objections from Anna can convince her friends that she never wanted to be captain. It continues to get worse, on a museum trip, Johnstone implies that Anna told tales on Lucy and Anna rues the day the teacher took a liking to her. One good thing comes out of the trip is that her old friend Ros has gotten suspicious of Johnstone’s motives and points out to Anna that everything she does gets her in trouble and perhaps Johnstone doesn’t favour her at all!

Anna puts this theory test by speaking in slang to Johnstone when no one else is around, and gets a more typical “Stoney” response, but in class when she does it, Johnstone suggests she’d be perfect for reading the lead Pygmalion. She enlists Ros’s help to find out why Johnstone is doing this, Ros agrees to help but doesn’t want to get too involved for fear of losing friends. So in secret Ros and Anna start investigating Miss Johnstone, they find out where she lives and theorize that Anna may look like a sister that she dislikes. That theory is soon disproved as Johnstone is an only child. While Stoney is away for the weekend they do more snooping where she lives and gets talking to a neighbour of hers. Seeing a letter in a book she lent the neghbour, they think they have a new clue. It involves the local dramatics society and they think Stoney is upset because she lost out to a younger actress similar to Anna that also has the same name. Again this theory quickly goes nowhere, as the letter actually was Mrs Greys’, the neighbour.

Johnstone assigns Anna to the school disco committee, despite Lucy volunteering, not winning Anna any favours from the others. The theme is to be the 60s, so Anna asks to borrow some of her Dad’s records, but he won’t let his precious collection out of the house, her mom says he had them even before they met (some foreshadowing here!). Then while setting up for the disco, Anna gets in Stoney’s bad books temporarily for playing “Twist and Shout” by the Beatles. Stoney ends up scratching the record in her hurry to turn it off. Wayne, the owner of the record, blames Anna for putting it on. Ros thinks they finally have a clue to Stoney’s past and they must find out why she hates that song so much.

Things look up for Anna, when Ros introduces her to her cousin Tom and they hit it off, but of course Stoney tries to cause problems. Anna then tells her mom that she she is having problems with Miss Johnstone praising her all the time, so her mom says she will have a word with her on parents night. But on the night Johnstone leaves suddenly with a headache before meeting the Normans. Ros who has smoothed things with Tom, reckons that Stoney had a broken romance, and wanted to break Anna and Tom up, though it doesn’t explain why she’s targeting Anna specifically. She soon finds out the reason why, when they get a chance to look in Johnstone’s flat while Mrs Grey is looking after her cat. Anna finds a picture of young Johnstone with a man whose face is crossed out, but she recognises the car in the background. A visit to her grandmother and looking through old photo albums, confirms her suspicions, the man in the photo was her dad! Mr Norman had never made the connection with the name but he was once engaged to Jean Johnstone but broke it off because of her jealousy and moodiness. They contact the headmistress and Johnstone doesn’t even deny it when confronted, she is happy she took her revenge. Learning the truth her classmates are sorry for how they treated Anna, she forgives them easily as she doesn’t want to end up like Stoney holding a grudge for years.

Thoughts

This is an interesting hate campaign story, there are several things that make it stand out from similar stories. Firstly that it is an adult campaigning against the protagonist rather than a peer. Miss Johnstone is in a position of power, she abuses this terribly and has no regrets that she punishes an innocent girl for the perceived wrong doings of her father. She also doesn’t regret ruining her own career because of this. Even without her revenge plan, Miss Johnstone isn’t a nice person, she soon earns her nickname “Stoney” with her tough discipline and hard attitude. We later learn it is not just being dumped that has turned her into this bitter person (although it certainly doesn’t help!) as even as a younger woman Johnstone was prone to jealousy and moodiness. Seems Mr Norman had a lucky escape!

Another thing that makes it stand out, is that it is not clear that there is a hate campaign against Anna to begin with. Other stories have had the “friend” of the protagonist turn out to be their secret enemy, but here because of Miss Johnstone’s strategy it’s not clear there is a hate campaign. Certainly it is a devious scheme, by praising and acting like she thinks Anna is great, she causes trouble without suspicion. It is nearly half ways through the story before her motives are actually questioned. Some of the girls thoughts on why Johnstone is after Anna are a stretch (such as looking like a hated sister) but they don’t have a lot to go on, so they have to think of some reason. Anna was lucky to find the photo and recognise the car and end Johnstone’s revenge. I like that Anna’s parents are supportive too, because often adults in these stories can be dismissive, especially considering Anna’s complaints are “Johnstone’s too nice to her”! While her mother doesn’t think it can be that bad, she does say she will talk to Johnstone and when they find out who she really is, they go straight to the Headmistress.

Anna’s friends are a bit quick to judge her, even Ros at first when she agrees to help, she doesn’t stand up for her in public. This might be excused if she didn’t want to put Johnstone onto their investigation but she also says she doesn’t want to get involved and lose her friends. Although as Ros becomes more convinced of Johnstone’s motives, she does become more active in supporting Anna, even introducing her to Tom, her cousin. I’m sure Anna, as a nice person, would have forgiven all her friends anyway, but it’s good to see it tie in with Johnstone, as she doesn’t want to become a bitter, unforgiving person like her. It brings the story to a satisfying conclusion.

The Runaway Rogers

Plot

The four Rogers children, whose parents  disappeared on a trip abroad, ran away from a children’s home to their Aunt Margedd’s cottage in North Wales —only to find the place empty and deserted. Ben and Danny Rogers followed a shepherd boy into the mountains at night and were led to Aunt Margedd, living in a ruined chapel. But when Ben and Twm, the shepherd, boy, returned to the cottage for Agnes and Connie, they found it burning fiercely.

Notes

Appeared

  • The Runaway Rogers – Judy: #565 (7 November 1970) – #573 (2 January 1971)

Flower-Power Fay

Plot

Fay Bell discovered that she had a strange effect on plants, so that they grew stronger and more beautiful for her than for anyone else in her town. With news of her gardening talent getting around, the Bells’ jealous neighbours, the Braggs, couldn’t resist a chance of trying to score over Fay.

Notes

Appeared

  • Flower-Power Fay – Judy: #563 (24 October 1970) – #572 (26 December 1970)