When Boris finally resigned in mid-summer All Change Please! was concerned at the loss of such a rich source of particular satirical material for its annual end of year corrupted literary Christmas Story. It need not have worried however as Dizzy Miss Lizzy Truss slipped seamlessly into the role, before she too stepped down.
So here is All Change Please!‘s slightly belated tribute to Liz Truss, surely the ultimate ‘here today and gone tomorrow’ prime minister, as it steps into its time machine, and sets the controls to revisit Truss’s fated premiership at some indeterminable point in spacetime to eavesdrop on a revealing conversation between William Brown and Violet Elizabeth Truss.
But first, in case you are unfamiliar with William Brown and his friends the Outlaws, ‘Just William’ was the title of the first of thirty-eight books for children written by Richmal Crompton between 1922 and 1970. They chronicle the adventures of the eleven-year old boy whose imagination and predilection for adventure constantly get him into difficult situations that he somehow manages to cleverly turns to his favour. In a number of stories William has to deal with Violet Elizabeth Bott, the younger, lisping, spoiled daughter of the local millionaire, Mr. Bott. She often forces the reluctant Outlaws to allow her to join them on their adventures with her highly effective threat that if they don’t she will: “Thcream and thcream and thcream till I’m thick”, and has an uncanny ability to exert feminine power through coercive control.
All Change Please!’s version departs from the original in one essential respect as we join William one afternoon as he is sitting quietly reading in the old barn where The Outlaws meet, with his faithful dog Jumble at his side, only to be interrupted by the sound of Violet Elizabeth Truss at the door.
“Pleath can I come in and sit with you William?” asked Violet Elizabeth Truss.
“Oh, you’re back….. oh dear, dear,” said William.
“Well,” explained William politely, “on the whole I’d rather you didn’t if you don’t mind as I’m reading something terribly important here and I really don’t to be disturbed.”
“Oh William, pleath… If you don’t let me I’ll thcream and thcream and thcream till I’m thick”
William, more familiar with the sound of Violet Elizabeth Truss’s excruitiating screams that he ever wanted to be, reluctantly agreed.
“Very well. But you mustn’t speak.” said William, rather ungraciously.
“Yes William I promith I won’t thay a word. I thant thpeak at all. I will be ever so thilent tho you won’t know I’m here.” She paused briefly and continued.
As there was no response Violet Elizabeth Truss tried again, this time fluttering her eyelashes at him. “William?”
Already distracted from his book, William realised there was little point in continuing to pretend she wasn’t there.
“Yes, well, what is it?” said William, who in truth was far from immune to femine charms and found it difficult to ignore her.
“What did you have for lunch?”
“Oh, pork chops from the market and a nice salad. They were very tasty. And then we had some cheese and biscuits.”
“I like chopth and cheeth too,” Violet Elizabeth Truss responded. “Though it’s a dithgrath they are so exthpethiv. I’m not very keen on lettuth though – it alwath latht too long.”
Violet Elizabeth Truss paused and after waiting a moment, just as William had managed to read another sentence, interrupted him again.
“William, I wath wondering if you could explain thomething to me?”
This time William, pleased to be acknowledged as an expert for once, willingly agreed.
“Well at lunchtime today my parenth were talking about something called Twickle-down economicth.” continued Violet Elizabeth Truss, who had been listening closely to their conversation. “Have you any idea what that is?”
“Hmmm!” Not willing to admit any suggestion of ignorance while at the same time indulging in a clear case of what would one day become known as mansplaining, William thought for a moment and suggested “It’s a bit like when an ice cream cone melts it trickles down your hand and makes a mess on your clothes and on the floor, and therefore you’ve rather wasted your money on it.” so I guess it’s someting to avoid if you can.
“And William…” Violet Elizabeth Truss persisted, while maintaining her air of wondering innocence. “How is it possible to ‘grow’ a pie?”
William, again unable to provide a specific answer, countered with “ Well if you ask me, that sounds a bit daft. I mean you could make a bigger one, but you can’t actually grow one. I mean it would be stupid to put a pie in the ground and water it, wouldn’t it?” Warming to his subject, he continued: “It probably involves adding some new highly scientific chemicals or something like that I ‘spect.”
‘And what’s Thatchewithm? And why do we need to go back to it?”
“Well, it must be a group of people who go round mending people’s thatched roofs, or something like that. And now there aren’t enough thatchers anymore so we need to go back and train some more otherwise people’s roofs won’t get mended.”
“William?” said Violet Elizabeth Truss, not entirely convinced by his responses, changed the subject, “What are you going to be when you grow up?”
“Oh I dunno!” replied William nonchalantly. “I’ve not really decided yet – an explorer probably, or someone who digs up things from the past or someone who, you know, invents things that no-one has thought of before.”
“Well,” said Violet Elizabeth Truss, “I’m going to be Pwime Minithter, make lots of important thpeecheth and run the country. I will be able to do anything I want. I’m going to remove all taxeth so everyone has loth and loth of money to thpend.”
“But Taxis can be jolly useful for getting to various places,” argued William.
“No, thilly. Not Taxiths. Taxeths! You know, that people pay the government to thpend on things like thotial thervices.”
“But if no-one pays any taxes there will be no schools or hospitals and things like that will there?”
“Yeth of course there will!” laughed Violet Elizabeth Truss “The people will jutht have to pay for them themthelves inthead of getting them for free!”
“And what if they don’t have enough money to pay for them?” queried William.
“Well they’ll jutht have to work a bit harder and get a better job then won’t they?”
“And William, do you know what a ‘You Turn’ ith?”
William knew the answer to this: “Well, yes, that’s what cars do when they turn round and go in the opposite direction.”
“Oh well I’ll have to practise doing You Turns as apparently that’s thomething I’ll have to do quite often as Pwime Minithter.”
“Maybe.” said William, not quite sure what she was on about. “But I would have thought the Prime Minister had their own driver to do their U-turns for them?
“When I get to be PM I get to have a cabinet,” continued Violet Elizabeth Truss. Would you like to be in my cabinet William? You could be the person who organises all the money.”
While the thought of this did momentarily hold some interest for William, the thought of being stuck in some old wooden cabinet with Violet Elizabeth Truss horrified him. At the same time he became aware if the vagueness of his own future plans and decided something more specific was required to redress the balance.
“Well that’s very kind of you to offer,” said William, not wishing to sound ungrateful, “but I’m afraid I’m probably going to be rather too busy when I grow up.” And not wishing to be outdone by Violet Elizabeth Truss’s grand ambition, William grandly announced: “When I grow up I’m going to invent a time machine. I was readin’ about it in this book before you interrupted me. It’s called ‘The Sound Of Thunder’ by some man called Ray Bradbury. Anyway in this story a man goes back in time to when there were still dinosaurs and things and he accidentally steps on a butterfly. And that changes the history of how we evolved and when the man gets back to his present time there’s a different leader of the country who has just been elected and who is completely useless. But my plan is to be jolly careful and to take some butterflies and nice things back with me so that when I return all the different countries in the world will have really good leaders instead. Folks are going to be jolly grateful to me for doing that. I ‘spect they’ll put up a statue of me somewhere.”
“Oh William!” laughed Violet Elizabeth Truss. “What thilly nonthence!”
Before William could react to this rebuff he heard his mother calling him for tea and, feeling relieved that the encounter with Violet Elizabeth Truss was over, he and Jumble rapidly headed back into the house. On his way home he decided he was going to do anything to make quite sure Violet Elizabeth Truss was never going to become or stay on as Prime Minister, even if he didn’t manage to invent a time machine. It also occured to him that it would soon be bonfire night and instead of Guy Fawkes he could burn an effigy of her on top of their bonfire.
Sadly however it seems that William did not manage to invent a device to travel back in time and replace the squashed butterfly. And as a result Donald Trump duly became US president, Vladimir Putin ruled over Russia, and following Boris Johnson’s doomed premiership, Violet Elizabeth Truss duly and disgracefully set about wreaking havoc before becoming the country’s shortest-serving PM.
It’s not quite clear what happened to William in later life, but there is a well-established conspiracy theory that at some point he changed his name to Graham Brown, and then later to Graham Brady, before becoming Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 committee…
Image credit: Thomas Henry
Previous All Change Please! Christmas Stories are available here: