Tag Archives: Family problems

Glenda Greeneyes [1984]

Plot

Glenda Johnson’s cousin Julie comes to stay. However, things keep going wrong around Julie, which gives everyone, even Glenda’s parents, the impression that Glenda is jealous of her. This, combined with Glenda having green eyes, has people calling her “Glenda Greeneyes”. Eventually Glenda gets so fed up with the moniker and unjust accusations of jealousy and spite that she writes to her grandmother for help.

Notes

Drawn by same artist as “I’ll Get Rid of Rona!” from Tracy.

Appeared

  • Glenda Greeneyes Tracy: #228 (February 11 1984) – #237 (April 14 1984)

No Friends for Fran

Plot

Sally Lenton had just moved to the village of Hollybrook. Whilst exploring, she went to the grounds of Denby house and spotted an unhappy girl at the window. She found out the girl was Fran Halliday and her mother kept her a prisoner because she was afraid Fran may catch a dreadful disease and die like her elder sister did. Mrs Halliday agreed Sally could be friends with Fran on the condition she could not ever leave Denby house, as she didn’t want her to bring any germs in. With the help of Mrs Gill the housekeeper, Sally sneaks back to her mother and with her agreement, she goes back to Fran to stay for the school holidays.

Notes

  • Art: Terry Aspin

Appeared

  • No Friends for Fran – Suzy: #84 (14 April 1984) – #93 (16 June 1984)

The £100,000 Headache [1980]

Published: Debbie Picture Library #33

Artist: Ian Kennedy (cover); J Badesa (story)

Plot

Sandra Painter’s family are not rich; her bicycle, for example, is getting ancient. But she’s got lots of friends and happy with her lot. Then Dad tells her and her brother Billy that they’ve won £100,000 on the pools. Sandra and Billy are all set to shout it to the world when Dad stops them. He’s heard stories on how the lotto curse has ruined lives and is not going to have that happen to him. So they’re going to keep their win a secret. They are not going to get carried away with flash cars, posh houses and such. The new things and renovations they will get will be done discreetly and the story will be that they have had a bit of luck, and they’ll show that having money makes no difference at all.

But as they soon discover, it does make a difference. The neighbours and kids at school can’t help but notice things the renovations being done professionally instead of Mr Painter doing it himself, which they think is strange. And it’s showing the rest of the neighbourhood up too. The kids at school see Sandra’s got flash new clothes and bicycle and we can sense jealousy in the way they comment on it. The worst is Edna Egon, who is constantly making nasty remarks about it and Sandra.

The new dudes are making Sandra a standout in school, but it’s proving awkward and causing embarrassments. For example, the teachers keep picking out Sandra for answering questions or running unwelcome errands because they are now noticing her too much. Sandra has to lock her new bicycle whereas she didn’t need to with the old one because it was not worth stealing. Then she loses the key and has to borrow a hacksaw! She comments that such things would never have happened with her old bicycle. On top of that, it causes her to mess up the errand teach lumbered her with, and when she gets home she messes up her new clothes on the paint being used for the redecorating. Dad comments that she wouldn’t have been so careless in the old days. Sandra finds she is beginning to miss things from the old days and she preferred some of the old things to everything they have bought anew.

Dad is encountering the same problems as Sandra; he says he is not going to darts club because everyone is getting wary of him. Later on in the story Billy says it’s just the same for him: everyone is picking on him. Sandra suggests they try sharing their good fortune, but in ways without hurting people’s pride.

They start with Dad offering his friend George Clark a lift in his new car. Sandra tries treating everyone at the canteen, but they accuse her of trying to buy popularity and will pay for themselves, thank you very much. Then Dad presents two new athletics trophies to the school. But Dad forgot that athletics are Sandra’s forte and it would be conflict of interest if she wins the trophy. Moreover, people remark that the competitors will let Sandra win because her dad donated the trophy. Sandra tries deliberately losing, and let her friend Wendy (George Clark’s daughter) win, but everyone realises what she did. Wendy is furious with Sandra for what she thought was favours, as it was not an honest win for her. Meanwhile, Dad messes things up even more when he generously has the Clarks’ car taken away for repairs at his expense – without consulting them first. The Clarks are furious, not only because they are proud but also because they thought their car had been stolen. After this, Sandra finds none of her friends are speaking to her at the leisure centre.

Dad miscalculates yet again when he sees Sandra standing miserably outside a ballet shop and assumes she wants ballet lessons. So without consulting her, he gets her expensive ballet gear and lessons at the more posh part of town. In fact, Sandra hates ballet, proves completely hopeless at it at her first lesson, and the other ballet students are a snobbish lot who won’t have anything to do with her. On top of that, her new bicycle got stolen while she was having the lesson.

The whole family is finding that everything has been going wrong since they won the money. It’s spilling out into frayed nerves and constant rows, which they never had before they won the money. For example, Dad unfairly accuses Sandra of letting the money go to her head and being careless over the bike theft. He’s a fine one to talk about being careless – he was saying this instead of watching his driving, and his new car hits a gatepost! Sandra has had enough of her classmates making such nasty remarks about her turning into Miss Posh, especially Edna, and lashes out at them. Billy is in a bad temper because everyone is picking on him, and when he’s in a bad mood he does something stupid. In this case it’s flying his new motor plane in the school playing fields out of hours. Sandra knows this could lead to trouble. She realises that giving the motor plane to Billy was another of Dad’s bad moves, which was compounded by Dad being too busy to teach Billy how to use it properly. Sure enough, Billy can’t control the plane properly and it smashes into a neighbour’s greenhouse. The neighbour is furious and the school janitor says they are in big trouble for trespass and damage. Now their parents are even worse, and there will be the headmistress to face next morning.

Next day, Billy runs away because of what happened. Sandra goes in search of him. Her classmates stop making their unkind remarks when they hear Billy’s missing. Even Edna changes her attitude. They promise to help if they can. Sandra decides the places to check are Billy’s favourite haunts. She soon locates him, and when they get home they find his disappearance has helped to patch things up with the people the Painters fell out with.

Dad comes home and says he has lost the money. He made a stupid investment with it – “didn’t take proper advice” – with a dodgy firm, who have now disappeared and being hunted by the police. However, Sandra and Billy cheer and tell Dad that losing the money was the cleverest thing he ever did with it. The Painters are now pretty much back to the way they were and glad for it. Their friends are back and now everyone knows the whole story.

 

Thoughts

When Dad wins the fortune he comes across as a whole lot more sensible than the Mill parents in Judy’s Minnie the Meanie, who lost the whole fortune they won on the pools because they did everything wrong: they broadcast the news of their good fortune to everyone in town, which made them prey to vultures out to take advantage; they did not save, invest or put any of the money where it would generate further income for them; worst of all, they just wouldn’t stop spending the money, despite danger signals that it was running out because of this.

Dad has clearly learned from stories like these and he tries to do everything right. But we know from the title of the story that things are not going to work out that way. Dad’s decisions on what to do with the money prove to be ill-conceived because he is not thinking things through or checking them out properly, and everything he does with the money blows up in his face one way or other. He turns out to be as incapable of handling a vast sum of money as the Mill parents.

Although the Painters are sensible enough not to flaunt the money and throw it around like confetti as the Mill parents do, they soon find out they are mistaken in believing money makes no difference. The overhaul they make to their entire household makes them stand apart too much from their less-wealthy neighbours. Instead of being just one of the gang as they were before, they look too far above themselves for their friends and neighbours to take. And of course people get jealous and resentful. The Painters try to win them over with generosity and sharing their good fortune with them. But rather than people getting greedy and taking advantage, as they do in Minnie the Meanie, it all just goes wrong all the time. In the end, the best thing for the Painters to do with the money was lose it altogether, and give the old adage “money does not buy happiness” a whole new appreciation.

Remember Rachel!

Plot

Orphaned Linda Dean was delighted to be fostered by kindly, well off Mr and Mrs Mount, and looked forward to a bright future as their adopted daughter. However, her happiness was overshadowed by the presence in the house of Nanny, an old lady who had looked after the Mounts’ daughter, Rachel, who had died three years earlier. Nanny made it clear to Linda that she would never allow her to take Rachel’s place. Meanwhile Linda had found out a few things about Rachel and had begun to discover why Rachel had been so unpopular at school.

Notes

Appeared

  • Remember Rachel! – Bunty: circa #1536 (20 June 1987) – (?)

No Place Like Home [1991]

  • No Place Like Home –  Bunty:  #1721 (05 January 1991) –  #1731 (16 March 1991)
  • Reprinted: Bunty #2127 (17 October 1998) – #2137 (26 December 1998)
  • Art: Eduardo Feito

Plot

Josie Small had been fostered by the Keegans for most of her life, and Megan Keegan, who was the same age as her, was was her best friend. So she is surprised when the posh Farmers arrive and want to adopt her. It is agreed that for a trial period she will live with them, to see how they get on, but Josie is sure she will be back with the Keegans at the end of it. The Farmers are certainly generous people, they take Josie on a shopping trip and pamper her, at their house she has a big room with whatever she needs. Still even after a week of being with the Farmers, she feels like they are being polite strangers rather than family. This is more apparent on an exam day where Josie misses Mum Keegan’s customary hugs. That day after the exam, she goes home with Megan and forgets to ring Mrs Farmer, who is upset at Mum Keegan for this. When Josie explains to Mrs Farmer that she wanted to use their encyclopedias for history assignment, the Farmers buy her a whole set and make a study for her.

Josie would much prefer the Farmer’s affection than material things, but the Farmers keep buying her things. This causes Megan and Josie have a falling out, because Megan thinks Josie is taking advantage of the Farmers as Josie said she hadn’t intentions of staying with them. In the heat of the moment Josie says she will stay with her new family. She regrets this and after few days she goes around to make up. She gets a surprise when she finds another foster girl there. Megan doesn’t let her know it’s a temporary situation and a spiteful classmate, Susie, stirs up more trouble questioning why the Keegan’s never wanted to adopt her. Back at her new home she overhears a conversation making Josie think the Farmers only want her because its good for Mr Farmer’s career. Feeling unwanted by both families, she decides she needs to just look out for herself.

When she agrees to be adopted, the Farmers throw a party, to celebrate, when they mention inviting Mr Farmer’s boss, for Josie it’s further proof of their priorities. Josie throws a tantrum when Mrs Farmer takes her shopping, to get a more glitzy dress and other things, but of course it doesn’t make her feel better. At the party, Josie does hit it off with the boss’s daughter Melanie, but soon she finds out about her selfish and manipulative ways. After Mum Keegan drops a gift around to wish her luck, Josie starts having doubts about the adoption. When she goes to talk to the Farmers about these doubts, they say that the adoption was able to be put through quicker than normal and they’ll explain how one day. Josie thinks like everything else they used money to speed things up.

She tries pushing boundaries but only seems to do herself more harm instead (too many late nights, lots of chocolate etc). She feels isolated and alone, so is happy when Megan seems to be willing to make amends and invites Josie to her birthday party. Things go well at first, but she does not realise that Mrs Farmer slipped money into the pencil box that she bought Megan as a present. Megan feels insulted, thinking Josie is showing off but doesn’t want to make a scene at the party. Not knowing  what went wrong, Josie is so desperate for a friend she invites Susie over. When that doesn’t work out because  Susie is jealous of what Josie has, she is convinced by Melanie to go to a concert with her. Then Melanie abandons her and Josie feels scared but has no way home. Luckily Megan knows where she has gone and let slip to Mum Keegan. Mr Farmer picks Josie up after a policewoman had found her.

The Keegans and Mrs Farmer are waiting back at the house and Mrs Farmer collapses from the strain of it all. It’s only after this that many revelations come out, Josie snaps at Keegan’s saying they don’t have to stay, because if they cared about her they would have adopted her. Then Mum Keegan reveals she couldn’t adopt her, because she had taken her in for friends until they could return. It turns the Farmers are actually Josie’s biological parents! Not long after Josie was born Mr Small went to jail for fraud, it was too much for Mrs Small who collapsed and didn’t feel well enough to care for Josie. When Mr Small got out of jail, they changed their name to Farmer and went abroad to build a new life for Josie to be proud of. Mr Farmer apologises to Josie for taking much longer than they thought and hopes she will be able to learn to love them. Josie needs time to think and Megan goes to talk to her. With everything out in the open, Megan apologises as she didn’t know how mixed up Josie was feeling, they make up and promise to remain sisters even if they are different homes. With Megan’s support, Josie goes to see her mother. More apologies ensue as Mrs Farmer says they genuinely thought Melanie would be a good friend but from now on they will let her choose her own friends. They all agree to start over and Josie feels lucky to have two families that love her.

Thoughts

This story draws some comparisons to the previous post. Both are family dramas with revelations about biological parents, girls moving to homes with a different socioeconomic backgrounds then they are used to and misunderstandings causing problems and loneliness. Like Margo, Josie has our sympathy and shows that even when she acts out, she is good person at heart. There are several times that she says she will just look out for herself and she doesn’t care about any one else, but she finds its not that easy to change. Such as whenever she gets hope that maybe her parents want her for herself, she is automatically willing to give things another chance, but then that is ruined when she interprets the Farmers actions as just caring about career and money.

When it turns out the Farmers do want her and are actually her biological parents,  that optimism must still be there as despite a slight hesitation she does accept them quite quickly after that. I think the Smalls/Farmers are forgiven a bit too easily, whereas in Misfit Margo, the Taylor’s reasons for giving up Margo and their actions afterwards make them likeable characters, the Farmers are harder to warm up to. Their reasons for giving Josie up at first are reasonable, with Mr Farmer being in prison/penniless and Mrs Farmer having a weak disposition they weren’t able to care for Josie.  What makes less sense is that in going away to build up a good life for Josie they seemed to overshoot what they actually needed. They could have returned earlier with a more modest wealth, or they could have gotten in contact with her sooner and kept in touch with her. Their priorities are wrong, believing money is what their daughter wants/needs instead of affection and boundaries (with Mr Farmer’s crime being fraud it may indicate that wealth/status has always been important to them). Their treatment of the Keegans is not great either, they are wanting Josie to forget about them and Mrs Farmer is not looking for any advice from Mum Keegan, not a great way to treat people who were supposedly friends. It can come across as snobbish,  but also as another weakness of the Farmer’s just wanting to brush away their shame, not having any reminders of the past. I do wonder when they planned to tell Josie the truth about everything! It is good to see they are wanting to change in the end but they have a lot of work to do.

The Keegan’s aren’t all innocent either, they are quite harsh on Josie at times, even if some of it is because of misconception. Megan has the excuse of being young but Mum Keegan should know better. Considering how Mrs Farmer is treating Mum Keegan, you’d think she might be wary of how things are going for Josie, even if she didn’t want to interfere. Also being a foster mother she should have more understanding how disruptive it can be for a child to change homes.  So her blaming Josie for everything seems too hard “From the look of you, you’ve made a real mess of things since the Farmers adopted you”. The ending has things tied up a bit too quickly for my liking but I think Josie and Megan’s reconciliation was done well  and it is nice to see everyone apologise and want to start fresh.

 

Misfit Margo [1979]

  • Misfit Margo –  Mandy: #625 (6 January 1979) – #634 (10 March 1979)
  • Artist: Dudley Wynne

Plot

Thirteen year old, Margo Ashley has everything a girl could ask for, as well as loving parents, a good home and friends. Then her parents are killed in a plane crash and despite their wealth they never prepared for such an event, spending as much as was earned so there is no money left. Then the shocks keep coming as she discovers she was actually adopted. Her biological parents, the Taylors, gave Margo up for private adoption after Mrs Taylor had an accident and Mr Taylor lost his job, they believed they couldn’t look after her. But now they want to give her a home along with their 3 children Linda, 11, Julie, 9 and  Gary, 8. It is a big adjustment for Margo to move into their small estate house and accept this new family. She senses their sincerity and is willing to try, but of course she’s still adapting to the tragedy of losing her parents and because of her nervousness and posh voice she comes off as stand offish to the others. It’s not helped by the Taylors knowing she is used to nicer things try to make her more at home but end up alienating her from the other children. Mrs Taylor is guilty of this in particular, such as wanting to use the good teacup for Margo and making up her bed in the mornings. Margo accidentally puts her foot in it when she mentions not knowing where she can keep all her things as the bedroom is smaller than she’s used to. This upsets Julie as her parents moved out of the bigger bedroom so Margo could have it.

Mr and Mrs Taylor try and get the others to give Margo a chance, so they are more polite but this just makes Margo feel like more of an outcast, they are sitting around like strangers. Linda being closest to her age and also being  hot headed means that her and Margo clash the most. Linda does have loyalty to her family so she does stick up for Margo when her friends make comments, but some misunderstandings lead to Linda being more against her. Firstly Margo wants to keep her “Ashley” name, Linda thinks it’s because Margo thinks Taylor sounds too common, but in fact Margo isn’t ready to let go of her parents name just yet, especially after all the changes. When some other girls make spiteful comments, Margo runs away in tears and bumps into Mr Taylor, she cries for her Dad but when Mr Taylor tries to comfort her, the strain of the day makes Margo yell that he is not her father. Linda who had gone to check on Margo, hears this and all her good intentions are gone again.

Things begin to get better after trip to cinema and going out for fish and chips. Margo takes a few days off school and buys her mother an expensive brooch as a birthday present, as she does feel grateful for her and Mr Taylor. But then Mr Taylor buys his wife a cheaper brooch, that he could afford and not wanting him to feel bad, Margo doesn’t give her gift, making the others think she is mean and ungrateful. Later the Taylors have a birthday party and Margo again feels out of place, so when old friends the Lathems show up she is pleased to see them. When they invite her out for dinner Margo thinks everyone will have better fun without her, though in fact Mrs. Taylor was hoping Margo would choose to stay at the party. Margo doesn’t have a great time at dinner either, because now the Lathems snobbery shows, saying how sorry they are that she has to live in such a small place with commoners. Margo sticks up for her family and she believes that will be the end of her friendship with the Lathems.

Feeling she will never fit in Margo decides to runaway but her parents stop her and after a talk, she feels even closer to them. Mother insists that Linda keep Margo company in school, Margo feels that is unfair for Linda to get lumbered with her so she tries to avoid her. When Linda finds out why she is doing this, they finally have a breakthrough and they grow closer. Bt then when they are both invited on holiday with old friends of Margos, their progress threatens to be undone because of the spiteful Paula. The Hartleys and their daughter are lovely people but their niece Paula who is staying with them is a snob and stirs up trouble for Linda. Linda gets to know how it feels to be a misfit, but that makes her lash out. Paula wrecks Lady Hartley’s flowerbed and puts Linda’s hankerchief near it in order to set it up. Margo finds it first and she doesn’t believe Linda would do such a thing so she hides the evidence and takes the blame. Paula accidentally slips up and after getting a full confession is sent home. Linda and the other Taylors are impressed at Margo’s loyalty to the family and Margo calls the Taylors Mom and Dad for the first time, finally she feels accepted and part of the family.

Thoughts

This is a good family drama story, with plenty of conflict and emotional pull to keep the reader invested.  It’s no surprise that Margo finds it hard to fit in after such upheaval and despite her new parents’ efforts, there are misunderstandings on both sides. While initially Margo has reservations about the people who gave her up, after meeting them and hearing their explanation, she quickly warms to them. Mr and Mrs Taylor are kind and welcoming, but their efforts to make Margo feel at home, (particularly Mrs Taylor) can actually make her stand out more from the others. Such as Mrs Taylor wanting to use the better cups, and at first thinking that fish and chips would be too common after the cinema. While the story centres on how Margo feels out of place in her new family, the biggest conflict is with herself and new sister, Linda. Margo is a nice girl, with no thoughts of grandeur, so she draws sympathy from the reader and while Linda may come across as antagonistic at times, you can certainly see her viewpoint too.

It seems initially Julie could have made a good ally,  as she is the one who thinks Margo would feel more part of family using same cups as everyone else, but mistakes, and a tendency to follow Linda’s lead means their good start is damaged. With Linda being closer in age and hot-tempered it makes more sense to see her and Margo clashing, so we actually don’t get a lot of time with Margo and her other siblings. It’s interesting to see a reversal of the situation, when Linda goes on holiday with Margo. Similarly she is sensitive about being a misfit, but their reactions are different, as Linda automatically gets defensive. It was good to see Linda and Margo were already getting closer, when Paula enters and nearly undoes everything. It could have easily had a villain undermining things all along but I’m glad she was used just as a climax, to further prove Margo would stand by her family. I was also glad it wasn’t just this one event that made Linda change her mind about Margo, that they had already made progress in their relationship. It makes the story flow better that way.

Dudley Wynne, often drew emotional stories, and he captures the family dynamics and Margo’s loneliness well here. There are some very heart-rending scenes such as when Margo breaks down, crying for her Dad, and Mr Taylor comforts her, you can certainly see his hurt when she rebuffs him, but understand that it wasn’t intentional on her part. All the family are very relatable and as a reader you just want them to speak to each other and clear up the misunderstandings, but you are never frustrated with the characters, because you can understand how they’ve got to this point. Paula is a typical devious, snobbish character, which is fine, but as I mentioned I’m glad she was only in the last few episodes. The other snobs, the Lathems, are interesting as when we first meet them they look after Margo after her parents death and seem like nice people, so it’s surprising to see their prejudices when outside of their own environment. It is a well written character focused story.