Spigot Boy was the eponymous hero of a cartoon strip that ran in the children’s comic The Ipsy Dipsy Doo during the early 1950s. Each week, Spigot Boy’s adventures stuck to a rigid formula. The strip consisted of just four panels, in the course of which the tousle-haired nipper would happen upon an imminent act of civic malfeasance which he would then foil by disguising himself as a spigot. Given these limitations, there was, in each episode, a bewildering fecundity of invention.
Though it no doubt went over the heads of the infant readership, one of the great pleasures of the Spigot Boy strip was that in each episode, at least one of the speech bubbles would contain a direct quotation from the works of Gerard Manley Hopkins. Almost always, the words chosen seemed to fit seamlessly, with no sense that they had been shoehorned in. Occasionally, of course, adherence to the formula meant there was a rather forced, gratuitous quality to the Hopkins quotation, but even when that did happen the strip was saved by, for example, the inclusion of a startlingly-executed picture of a wheatear or a nuthatch in the sky just above and to the left of Spigot Boy’s head in the moments before he adopted his spigot disguise and foiled the schemes of that week’s civic malefactor.
The strip was discontinued after the editrix of The Ipsy Dipsy Doo realised that the villains in each episode were in fact crude caricatures of some of the leading professional foopballers of the day, many of whom were called either Wally or Nat. One seldom meets with top flight professionals named Wally or Nat in the game nowadays, which is a great pity.
But thereagain, one seldom meets with a tousle-haired nipper, fictional or otherwise, who can expertly disguise himself as a fully-functioning spigot at the drop of a hat. That, I think, is a greater pity. And I should know, because I know more about pity than anybody. Pity, putty, and putti – those are my areas of expertise, and you would do well to remember that, for when I am crossed my rages are terrible, not unlike those of a 1950s infant whose copy of The Ipsy Dipsy Doo has been snatched from his tiny little hands and cast into the fire, where it is consumed by flames more terrible than the flames of the deepest pit of hell.