Biggles Hits the Trail

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Biggles Hits the Trail

Postby Jennifer » 09 Aug 2013, 10:15

Talking of Biggles outlook on life there is a bit at the beginning of Biggles Hits the Trail where he is telling Ginger how to behave and to follow the traditions set out by the RFC and the air pioneers. As the vast majority of pilots in those days were upper class I think there was also an element that he would not be popular among other pilots because of his background unless he fitted in with their traditions. The only thing missing from all the Biggles Philosophy is his absolute loyalty to his three comrades - this really comes above everything else.
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Re: Biggles Hits the Trail

Postby SopwithCamel » 09 Aug 2013, 10:19

I don't know just how serious (or drunk) Biggles was when he made that speech. It struck me that he was being pompous on purpose (note his bantering and scathing putting-down of Algy), rather than being 100% serious.
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Re: Biggles Hits the Trail

Postby Jennifer » 09 Aug 2013, 10:30

Yes I think he was being pompous on purpose but I am sure he meant everything he said to Ginger.
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Re: Biggles Hits the Trail

Postby Fairblue » 09 Aug 2013, 12:38

Jennifer wrote:As the vast majority of pilots in those days were upper class I think there was also an element that he would not be popular among other pilots because of his background unless he fitted in with their traditions.
I got the impression that even if someone was from an upper-class background he wouldn't have been popular unless he followed the RFC traditions, which I think came before everything else.

SopwithCamel wrote:I don't know just how serious (or drunk) Biggles was when he made that speech. It struck me that he was being pompous on purpose (note his bantering and scathing putting-down of Algy), rather than being 100% serious.

I took it this way too, Soppy. He wanted Ginger to follow in the traditions of the RFC, but I really can't see Biggles being at all pompous, something he hates in other people. ;)
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Re: Biggles Hits the Trail

Postby Jennifer » 09 Aug 2013, 13:11

I think he wanted to praise Ginger for getting his A Licence but make sure he did not get big headed about it after all when he and Algy learned to fly they were sent to the front line after a few hours solo unlike Ginger with a civil licence.
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Re: Biggles Hits the Trail

Postby SaintedAunt » 09 Aug 2013, 15:29

SopwithCamel wrote:I don't know just how serious (or drunk) Biggles was when he made that speech. It struck me that he was being pompous on purpose (note his bantering and scathing putting-down of Algy), rather than being 100% serious.

I should think that whatever he was he wasn't drunk - not after the end of WWI. He appeared to become quite moderate in his drinking habits after his tragic experiences in France [apart from a certain holiday in a jungle ;) ]
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Re: Biggles Hits the Trail

Postby CaptWilks » 10 Aug 2013, 05:15

I love the banter in that early section and the way in which WEJ establishes the characters and their relationships. And then the story rockets away (although I am aware that many are critical of the more fantastical elements). As it happens, I have just started rereading this book.
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Re: Biggles Hits the Trail

Postby Spitfire666 » 10 Aug 2013, 06:59

CaptWilks wrote:I love the banter in that early section and the way in which WEJ establishes the characters and their relationships. And then the story rockets away (although I am aware that many are critical of the more fantastical elements). As it happens, I have just started rereading this book.

I read Hits the Trail as a kid, and it took a while to get past the first chapter; I kept reading it over and over and over again, I loved it so much.
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Re: Biggles Hits the Trail

Postby Fairblue » 10 Aug 2013, 20:20

Spitfire666 wrote:
CaptWilks wrote:I love the banter in that early section and the way in which WEJ establishes the characters and their relationships. And then the story rockets away (although I am aware that many are critical of the more fantastical elements). As it happens, I have just started rereading this book.

I read Hits the Trail as a kid, and it took a while to get past the first chapter; I kept reading it over and over and over again, I loved it so much.
The best bit is the beginning. After that, I can't really get interested. Too fantastical for me.
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Re: Biggles Hits the Trail

Postby SaintedAunt » 10 Aug 2013, 22:36

Fairblue wrote:The best bit is the beginning. After that, I can't really get interested. Too fantastical for me.

I have to say, FB, that on the whole I agree with you. There are a few good moments, like when Algy goes to look for Biggles in the depths of the mountain, and when Biggles takes of in spectacular circumstances at the end, but mostly ...
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Re: Biggles Hits the Trail

Postby Fairblue » 11 Aug 2013, 08:02

SaintedAunt wrote:
Fairblue wrote:The best bit is the beginning. After that, I can't really get interested. Too fantastical for me.

I have to say, FB, that on the whole I agree with you. There are a few good moments, like when Algy goes to look for Biggles in the depths of the mountain, and when Biggles takes of in spectacular circumstances at the end, but mostly ...

Trouble is, because I didn't really like the book I never paid attention much to those bits. I just might re-read those chapters and leave the rest alone. But didn't someone say that WEJ wrote Hits the Trail in response to some of the Sci-Fi offerings that were coming out in comics and the cinemas etc, or did I dream that bit? :?
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Re: Biggles Hits the Trail

Postby OzBiggles1963 » 11 Aug 2013, 08:57

[quote="Fairblue"]......But didn't someone say that WEJ wrote Hits the Trail in response to some of the Sci-Fi offerings that were coming out in comics and the cinemas etc, or did I dream that bit?]

I think u are quite correct in your assumption. I too recall reading [somewhere] that WEJ was indeed attempting to mimic the 'pulp fiction' and/or sci-fi genre, which was quite popular in the early to mid-30's [I have read George Rochester & others where 'death rays' & evil scientists were knocking planes out of the sky etc]. Or it could also have some political & cultural significance regarding the "yellow" peril perceived threat at the time [wasn't the master criminal Dr. Fu Manchu created at about this time by the author Sax Rohmer?]
They've been working together for so long that each seems to know by a sort of telepathy when another is in trouble. One never seems to get them together. Get one & the others come after him. To give the devil his due they make a formidable team.
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Re: Biggles Hits the Trail

Postby Spitfire666 » 11 Aug 2013, 09:24

SaintedAunt wrote:
Fairblue wrote:The best bit is the beginning. After that, I can't really get interested. Too fantastical for me.

I have to say, FB, that on the whole I agree with you. There are a few good moments, like when Algy goes to look for Biggles in the depths of the mountain, and when Biggles takes of in spectacular circumstances at the end, but mostly ...

I love the scene where they sit on the hill just looking at The Mountain of Light; that always stays in my memory. I don't mind it being fantastical: it was written by Johns, and is still Biggles, not like the daft film. I read it as a child, so did not know it was unlike his other work, so because of that I accept it more, perhaps.
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Re: Biggles Hits the Trail

Postby SopwithCamel » 11 Aug 2013, 17:42

I quite liked the front bit, and then there's a bit in the middle where Biggles and Ginger are out somewhere and they hear shooting and Biggles comments that it must be Algy because no one else would shoot like that :lovie: and then straight afterwards there's a bit where Algy is running for his life from invisible men.

I couldn't quite "get" the fantasy or sci-fi-ness of it all. Biggles always seemed so grounded in reality and the story was just laughable in some ways.
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Re: Biggles Hits the Trail

Postby SaintedAunt » 11 Aug 2013, 18:18

SopwithCamel wrote:... then there's a bit in the middle where Biggles and Ginger are out somewhere and they hear shooting and Biggles comments that it must be Algy because no one else would shoot like that

Oh yes - I liked that bit too :)
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Re: Biggles Hits the Trail

Postby Jennifer » 13 Aug 2013, 10:09

I do not like the way they just killed all those "Chungs" - if they had been there for generations there must have been women and children amongst them. It really is si fi and not much like the other Biggles books.
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Re: Biggles Hits the Trail

Postby Spitfire666 » 13 Aug 2013, 11:11

Jennifer wrote:I do not like the way they just killed all those "Chungs" - if they had been there for generations there must have been women and children amongst them. It really is si fi and not much like the other Biggles books.

Did they, though? They intended to flood the power plant. There was a lot more water than expected, but they saw "the inhabitants were pouring up the hill in order to escape the deluge." No reason to suppose they did not escape, is there? Certainly, Biggles & Co saved many thousands of people, starting with India, who would have been destroyed, as the Chungs were ready to attack.
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Re: Biggles Hits the Trail

Postby Jennifer » 13 Aug 2013, 11:15

Oh dear! If they escaped they may still be out there :nail:
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Re: Biggles Hits the Trail

Postby Spitfire666 » 13 Aug 2013, 11:52

Jennifer wrote:Oh dear! If they escaped they may still be out there :nail:

And Biggles said it would take a few years for them to get back to a state of readiness to make more war, which may be now... :scared:
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Hits the Trail

Postby Inactive User 149 » 05 Dec 2013, 15:49

This has always been rather an odd book for many different reasons but I have just read it again and it strikes me as somewhat strange that Biggles is so pleased Ginger has got his pilot's licence and hopes he will be a credit to them and in the rest of the book he tells him off constantly to such an extent that you wonder if he really wanted to take him along at all!
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Re: Hits the Trail

Postby Kismet » 05 Dec 2013, 16:04

If Ginger hadn't been so quick going for his hat and coat, I think he might have been left behind!
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Re: Hits the Trail

Postby SaintedAunt » 05 Dec 2013, 16:06

I really am going to have to read this book again (I tend to go round it). I don't remember Biggles forever telling Ginger off so I must not have read it carefully enough :o
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Re: Hits the Trail

Postby Inactive User 149 » 05 Dec 2013, 16:10

Yes he brings that centipede into the camp then he talks in American slang and when Biggles is shooting at one of the rays and says "How's that?" Ginger says "Not out" and Biggles says "I'll clip your ear for you you impudent brat". He also tells him off when the spur is swaying when they go with the dynamite and he is just going to have a real go at him when the plane is sinking until he realises he has been hurt - I read the book again last week so it is fresh in my mind and still not one of my favourites. I totally agree with Kismet that if he had not rushed out for his hat and coat he would definitely have been left behind.
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Re: Hits the Trail

Postby Purple Pigeon » 06 Dec 2013, 09:19

There's also the part where Biggles tells Ginger and Algy to keep watch at Dickpa's house and neither of them notice the policeman coming at to the door and Ginger is the only one who is told off.

It must have been very confusing for Ginger to be constantly rebuked for using American slang when a short while earlier (in Black Peril) Biggles and Algy found it amusing.

On the plus side, in the midst of all Biggles' displays of bad temper we do get that nice moment on the mountain top when Biggles tells Ginger that he is glad he came.

I know a lot of people don't like Hits the Trail, but I love it because there is so much character development. Biggles and Ginger are coming to terms with their relationship with each other and Algy does some stellar work relieving the tension. It's very interesting to watch the relationships develop in early Ginger books.
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Re: Hits the Trail

Postby Inactive User 149 » 06 Dec 2013, 10:38

Once again Purple Pigeon a lovely post. I totally agree with you. Ginger does insist on going with Biggles although Biggles says it is no job for a kid and he saves his life by shooting over his shoulder and between his legs (could have been quite nasty that). Biggles is always trying to protect Ginger and keep him safe and Ginger is determined to be in the thick of things. I love the books where Biggles is trying to keep him out of the action and in the end Ginger is the one who saves Biggles and Algy. I think we sometimes forget that in the Black Peril it is the documents which Ginger has taken from the enemy camp which enables the foreign invasion to be stopped.
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Re: Hits the Trail

Postby Fairblue » 06 Dec 2013, 10:52

Purple Pigeon wrote:There's also the part where Biggles tells Ginger and Algy to keep watch at Dickpa's house and neither of them notice the policeman coming at to the door and Ginger is the only one who is told off.

It must have been very confusing for Ginger to be constantly rebuked for using American slang when a short while earlier (in Black Peril) Biggles and Algy found it amusing.

On the plus side, in the midst of all Biggles' displays of bad temper we do get that nice moment on the mountain top when Biggles tells Ginger that he is glad he came.

I know a lot of people don't like Hits the Trail, but I love it because there is so much character development. Biggles and Ginger are coming to terms with their relationship with each other and Algy does some stellar work relieving the tension. It's very interesting to watch the relationships develop in early Ginger books.

Well, once again this forum is responsible for my procrastination. I should be scrubbing my empty house ready for the new occupants but I thought "I'll just have a quick look" and this thread caught my eye (amongst others!) I only read 'Hits the Trail' once but in view of Purple Pigeon's observations with regard to character development I might give it another try. Also with regard to Biggles attitude to american slang. It's one thing to find it amusing in a cheeky lad who has saved your life and helped you so much but a different thing altogether when you are now responsible for his welfare and upbringing. Biggles will have had no doubt in his mind that Ginger was going to grow up a gentleman so the slang had to go. Also I have a sneaking suspicion living with said slang popping up at all odd hours would have got on his nerves. ;)
Last edited by Fairblue on 06 Dec 2013, 11:08, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Hits the Trail

Postby Inactive User 149 » 06 Dec 2013, 11:00

Yes I think you are right there Fairblue and it does say that his flying instructor was not happy with his slang. I do agree that bringing Ginger up to be a gentleman would mean it had to go. In fact Ginger very soon starts talking like Biggles and Algy. It is noticeable in Air Commodore when he says "You seem to be cogitating with considerable concentration" not a sentence you would often hear in a mining village in the north of England. He would also have to improve his table manners and dress sense and teach him to respect his elders and betters - an uphill struggle all round I should think. His spelling needed improvement too.
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Re: Hits the Trail

Postby Spitfire666 » 06 Dec 2013, 11:07

If you read contemporary reports from the 1930s, kids were using American slang across the country, having picked it up from the films. It was huge. Yes, it would have raised a smile when used inThe Black Peril, but once Biggles took responsibility for Ginger, it would have to go or it would have driven them mad.
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Re: Hits the Trail

Postby Inactive User 149 » 06 Dec 2013, 11:21

Of course a lot of American slang became common usage in this country over the years. Ginger calling Biggles chief in the 1930s was classed as slang but in the Air Police Books Biggles calls Raymond the chief.
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Re: Hits the Trail

Postby SaintedAunt » 06 Dec 2013, 15:26

I am nearly half way through and Biggles has only snapped at Ginger once so far, when Ginger brought a revolting huge dead smelly caterpillar to where they were about to have lunch and then accidentally punctured it with his stick… I think in that case Biggles was justified :lol:

But thanks to you lot for all the comments which encouraged me to read it again - I am enjoying it. A lot of light-hearted banter in the first half of the book. I love the bit at the start where Algy tries to bring Biggles down a peg or two when Biggles is being so terribly pompous :D
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