- Nothing Ever Goes Right! – Judy: #1102 (21 Feb 1981) – #1118 (13 June 1981)
- Reprinted – Judy: #1553 (14 October 1989) – #1569 (03 February 1990)
- Reprinted and translated to Dutch as “Hester heeft altijd pech” (“Hester Always Has Bad Luck” ) – Peggy #6/1983 and reprinted again in Peggy #1/1989
- Writer: Maureen Hartley
- Art: Paddy Brennan
Heather Morgan is a pretty, talented girl, with a well-off and loving family. She has not let this make her big headed or spoilt, she is very kind hearted and has plenty of friends. At school she is made captain of the hockey team and wins the leading part in the school play. She is delighted when her parents buy her a pony, who she names Firefly. Then things begin to go wrong…
She meets a boy Frank to practice riding with, Frank is quite self-involved, although Heather doesn’t notice this at first. One afternoon Frank’s horse heads for an open gateway where there are two kids, Heather manages to head him off but she gets thrown into barbed wire and Firefly falls awkwardly. Firefly’s back is broken and has to be put down and Heather is left with bad scars. Heather feels she can’t play a princess in the play because of this but she helps her understudy Caroline with her part. She thinks Caroline is the better actress anyway she just needs more confidence. Heather still has other things to look forward to, like the chance of a ballet scholarship, and a doctor may be able to remove her scars. It’s an expensive operation but her family can afford it. Heather feels a bit guilty that another poorer ballet student, Paula, will have to stop dancing if she doesn’t get the scholarship, while her family would still be able to afford dancing lessons for her. Heather sacrifices her chances at the scholarship figuring she’ll get another chance later. Then her father’s business runs into trouble and he has to postpone Heather’s operation.
Due to her father’s money problems the family have to move across town, to a smaller house, which makes it harder for Heather to meet up with her friends. Eventually she has to switch schools. She doesn’t fit in well at her new school, she finds it hard to make friends. She thinks she has found a friend when she meets Barry who helps out at the library, she helps him with a display for a competition. Then she overhears him talking to friend’s how he is only being nice to her so she’ll help him with the competition. She also finds herself feeling tired and breathless but she doesn’t want to worry her parents any more. Her parents aren’t having any better luck. Mr Morgan plans to sell his car but gets in a crash, meaning he won’t get that much money from the sale. He also plans to start a new business, but Mrs Morgan is worried about getting themselves in more debt. She pawns her jewellery to help with the finances. Heather knowing a particular brooch is important to her mother saves up to buy it back. When she arrives home with it, she finds that her mother has walked out on them.
Heather continues to have problems at school and is constantly bullied, then she collapses and is taken to hospital. The doctor tells her she has a mild heart complaint, but with rest she should recover completely. Later when her mother rings to check up on then Heather tells her about her heart condition in order to persuade her to come back. Her mother says she’ll come home at once. Heather and her father prepare dinner for Mrs. Morgan’s return but it is a police officer who turns up instead. Mrs. Morgan has been killed in a car accident.
When ever things begin to look better, soon more disaster strikes. Mr Morgan gets his shop up and running, only to have it burnt down in a fire. Mr Morgan falls into a bit depression after this. Heather takes on a job as a delivery girl to help out. On one delivery she meets a girl Pauline who is in a wheelchair after an accident. Heather strikes up a friendship with her. Pauline’s parents know of Heather’s dad and offer him a job and a cottage to live in. Heather leaves her current school but a gang of them come over to Pauline’s house and wreck up the place. Heather gets blamed, as the gang said she invited them over and her father is fired. Her father finds them a new home, a boat house. Heather helps out some neighbour kids who are being abused. When she sees them shoplifting she tells the shop owner who calls the police and when the sees the bruises over the kid’s bodies, social services are called. This leads to another neighbour developing a grudge against the Morgan family. Mr Morgan sends Heather to stay with relatives but she behaves badly in order to be sent back to stay with her Dad. She has two reasons for this, firstly she overhears her Uncle and Aunt talking about how tight money is and secondly she feels her father needs her. It turns out her father does need her because the neighbour has cut the walkway, causing to Mr Morgan to fall into icy water and getting trapped. It is an hour before he is found.
While Mr Morgan is in hospital Heather goes into a foster home. Her foster mother and daughter aren’t friendly and she gets into a fight with the daughter when she takes her mother’s brooch. Heather is sent to a school for problem children. She sneaks out to visit her Dad and one of the other pupils blackmails her into getting junk food for the dorm. They get found out and Heather’s blamed. She is punished but manages to slip out again. She goes to the hospital but is informed her father died that morning. When the police turn up she runs away so she won’t be sent back to the school. Heather finds it hard to go on, but she decides she must get to her relatives that she lived with briefly. When she arrives the house is empty and the next door neighbours tell her they emigrated to Australia last month.
With no where to go Heather is left on the streets. She saves a dog from being run over and brings him to the home on his address. The effort makes her collapse. The Claytons, the dog owner, call a doctor and he tells them she is in poor condition and needs rest and nursing to restore her health. Heather is grateful to Claytons but other than her name she pretends to have lost her memory as she’s afraid they’ll call the police. She eventually tells them everything, and the Claytons decide to adopt her but keep it a surprise. A jealous niece who overheard the story calls the cops, while the Claytons are out, forcing Heather to run.
While figuring out what to do next, Heather finds some missing children that are trapped in a collapsed derelict house. She calls for help and then manage to get down to help them. When the firemen arrive she lifts the children to safety but then collapses from the strain. She is taken to the hospital, but it’s all been too much and she passes away. Because she had no identification on her she is buried in an unmarked grave. No one was there to mourn her death but some of the people’s life she touched remember her and wonder what became of her. Like Caroline who she helped gain confidence in her acting and Barry the librarian who wishes he was nicer to her at the time. The only visitors to Heather’s grave is the children she saved and their mother who would always be thankful to the nameless girl.
This story certainly lives up to its title. Tragic heroines were not uncommon, characters often had to deal with a lot of hardships before getting their happy endings or in some cases like this one, there is no happily ever after for the main character. A more famous tragic character is Mandy’s “Angel” which I’ve already discussed here. At least Angel had a choice of how she wanted to live her last year of her life and she died with her loved ones around her. She even got a statue in her honour. Heather has misfortune after misfortune and ends up in an unmarked grave! It’s quite a depressing end, despite all the other lives she made better. I think the writer was really trying to push the boundaries on how hard they could make life for this character and also not have her get through these hardships and end on a happier note (UPDATE – Writer Maureen Hartley has informed us that it was the editor that wanted the tragic ending). Characters having bad luck, or going through many difficulties were a cliche at the point when this story came out. This story nearly borders on parody on how much can one young girl endure. At one point Heather helps a young girl who has been pushed out of her wheelchair only for two old women come and berate her for pushing the girl from the wheelchair without listening to explanations! Really nothing she does ends well.
Heather also has to deal with some discrimination because of her scars mostly with kids, but also with some adults. She thinks she can’t be the princess in the play because of her scars but that is more a case of her withdrawing rather than forced out. Her ballet teacher, actually tells her she should consider dropping out of the scholarship because she can’t expect a stage career with her scars. Which isn’t very supportive or a good quality for a teacher. The actual person judging the scholarship is much more understanding and knows about stage makeup! Although Heather has a hard time, there are other people in the story, that shows that everyone has their own problems. Paula (the ballet student) has money problems and also has to deal with some nasty girls in the class. Then there’s the two kids that are being beaten and forced to shoplift by their guardians. If Heather hadn’t helped them out, they could have been stuck in that bad situation.
Though it may sound that I’m being a bit mocking because the tragedy is extreme, the story is played seriously and it is very well written and well paced. I can see why it was a favourite with readers. I definitely felt invested in the family and in the story. I did feel sad when Heather died, I felt she was a very likeable character. She breaks down at times but she tries to stay strong, particularly for her family. She stands up for people and is friendly and helpful. There has also been many stories about orphans but rarely do we get to spend time with the parents first. Having their deaths spaced out, makes it tougher. Just when she gets over her mother’s death (who dies eight episodes in) then she has to deal with her father’s death (the fourteenth episode). I had grown to like the father as well, so his death was nearly as sad as Heathers’.
The last page is well done the majority of the page is taken up with a panel each for a person she affected. While Heather dying is depressing it is nice to see the callback to people she helped and how she changed their lives for the better, in the brief time she knew them. There was some unexpected mentions like Barry, who seems to have regretted early actions, and was not someone I would have expected seeing again. It is very nicely drawn throughout but I particularly liked the last page of the older characters musing about Heather.
(click for larger image)