This is the forth of the Billy Bunter books that I have read (and there are a couple more sitting on top of a plastic case for me to read) and it is actually the third in the series (if the statement on Goodreads is anything to go by, and there is no reason that I should doubt such a statement), not that I have been reading them in any particular order (I tried getting the first one from Ebay but surprisingly enough it never actually arrived, though who am I to accuse the fine seller that I purchased this book from as being a fraud, especially since he had a high Ebay rating – but don't let this statement be an indictment of Ebay, since I have purchased a few things over that particular internet site and I have only had bad luck twice – this time, and the time I purchased a computer game only to discover that it was a copy).
Anyway, Billy Bunter decides that he wants to play a prank on one of the students, namely Bob Cherry, due to an incident that occurred in class earlier that day. However, as is typical with the Fat Owl of the Remove, his plan goes wildly wrong, and he ends us sooting his teacher, Mr Quelch, as opposed to Bob Cherry. As such, the lazy bugger (though I am not suggesting that he swings that way, I am only using a term from my childhood) decides not to own up when Mr Quelch goes storming around Greyfriars, and instead Bob Cherry gets into trouble, which results in him getting expelled.
This is where the fun begins, because just before Bob Cherry's departure, all of his friends, Bunter included, go and say farewell to him in one of the rooms, and then proceed to barricade the door and refuse to leave until such a time as Bob Cherry is allowed to remain. This creates a rather difficult situation because, as anybody knows, this act is an affront to the authority of the school, and if the school were to back down, they would immediately lose face, and no doubt their reputation would suffer, so instead that try all sorts of tricks (including bringing Bob Cherry's father in, who gives Bob Cherry a word of encouragement and tells the school that he is quite proud of his son and supports him in his endeavour) to get them out, all of them failing.
I won't say how it ends, but as we can expect in books like this, everything ends up okay and everything goes back to normal (and nobody gets expelled) but also we find out that it all comes down to the fat-headed Billy Bunter pulling a trick that leave us puzzling as to whether Bunter actually has cunning (which, I must admit, he does, because it takes an awful lot of cunning to be able to sniff out food, and get your hands on things that you are not supposed to, despite the fact that half the time he ends up getting caught - namely because when food goes missing everybody instantly knows who the responsible party is).
Anyway, as I mentioned, the entire drama is about saving face. It is similar with the idea of the United States never negotiating with terrorists because the belief is that if they begin to negotiate with terrorists then it will only encourage terrorists all the more (despite the fact that their refusal to negotiate with terrorists tends to not reduce the amount of terrorism that goes on inside and out of the country, though in many cases a lot of people end up doing such things because they: don't actually appreciate the consequences; they believe that it will be different for them; they have nothing left to lose). As for the school the same thing applies. The whole idea of the school, especially a high-end private school like Greyfriars, is the ability to maintain discipline, and once the teachers give in to such demands, the ability to control, and maintain, discipline is suddenly undermined. However, it is clear that the students do not appreciate this, but more so, realise that Cherry has been tried and found guilty without any attempt to get to the bottom of the case (as is made clear when Cherry's father pays them a visit). This is a case where the ordinary, hard-working, student who respects and appreciates the authority of the school (with the exception of Billy Bunter, but then he is always an exception) realises that in this instance they have gone too far, and they have decided that they need to make a stand to make the school realise that there is always a limit to authority.