Biggles Pulls it Off A second offering- Tiffinata

Biggles Pulls it Off A second offering- Tiffinata

Postby tiffinata » 02 Sep 2018, 07:04

I would have liked this one to lie fallow for a while before posting, as writing it was like having teeth pulled- painful and drawn-out. Forgive the editing and, in places, lack of grammar, as I really didn't get a good go back to review it.

I has the outline on day one, but filling the gaps and dialogue... well, life was trying to conspire against me. Still, I managed a virtual tour of the area the story is set in, and a crash course in local history.




The day had started well enough, with beautiful blue skies- the sort that people often called a 'borrowed day'. Sometime in the afternoon the fickle English weather had turned. A chilly wind had sprung up, and rain clouds had moved in rapidly, reducing visibility to almost zero at times.

Water squelched through the worn soles on what, sometime during the last half-century, had been a decent pair of gentlemen’s shoes. The torn lining had had been replaced with offcuts from old clothing considered too poor to be repurposed into anything more useful, and newspapers had been stuffed into the toes to try and make them fit better. Not that the young man upon whose feet these disreputable objects now resided would have known much about decent shoes, having been used to hand-me- downs, or more often than not, going without.
His clothing too had seen better days, and had been altered to fit his undernourished frame, cobbled together in places by someone with little skill using mismatched thread.

A threadbare blanket fashioned into a swag, then tied to a stout stick was thrown over his shoulder. In it he carried a few personal items- a spare set of underwear and socks, a few cooking and eating utensils and his most prized possession- a German pocket-knife that had been left to him by his Godfather, who had brought it home as a souvenir from the Great War.
A few coins were wrapped in a none-too-clean handkerchief. A lump of stale bread, and a few foraged herbs were wrapped in newspaper along with an egg liberated from a hen-house just before dawn.

He turned up his collar and continued walking in the direction of a village, hoping to find somewhere to shelter, and perhaps earn a few pennies in order to buy a little food to eke out his meagre rations. In this he was only partially lucky; having knocked on a few doors in the village, he was able to pick up some work chopping kindling for an elderly lady.

Once finished, he was instructed to go to the back door for a cup of tea.

The single servant took pity on him, and allowed him inside the kitchen to dry off and warm up a little.

“Here, laddie, wrap yourself in that blanket. I’ll have that wet jacket off ‘o you and hang it up to dry some. Why, your only a wee bitty of a boy! What’s your Mam thinkin’, letting you run around the countryside like this?”

“I’m sixteen,” the lad replied huffily, hunching a shoulder.

“You don’t say! You don’t look a day over twelve!” she marveled. “What’re you doing, out on your own?” she pushed a plate of bread and butter over towards him.

“I’m going to London to join the Air Force,” he bit into a piece of bread hungrily. “If they won’t take me I’ll go and watch the planes taking off at Croydon.”

“Well fancy that! You wouldn’t catch me having anything to do with those nasty machines. If God has intended us to fly, he’d have given us wings. You’d be better joining the railways, then. Nice steady job and not many accidents. A good pension plan too, so my brother says. He works a branchline, not far from here, and says its better than the mines,” she topped up his cup. “After what happened at Hartley*, none of our menfolk wanted to go down the pits. It’s all houses now. Wouldn’t fancy living there with all the ghosts,” she shuddered. “Where have you come from?

“I grew up in Smettleworth.”

“Never heard of it. Where’s that?”

“I’m not quite sure,” he admitted sheepishly. “I came through Newcastle a couple of days ago.”

“Newcastle!” she exclaimed. “And you’re heading to London?”

He nodded, mouth full.

“Why you’re going the wrong way. If you keep going the way you are, you’ll be at the North Pole in time for Christmas. What you ought to do, is follow the old rail line down south, until you get to the branch line at Hartley , There’s sure to be an old siding or workmen’s hut to put up in for the night. I can let you have a little food to be going on with, but there's not much to be had. But it can wait a bit until your clothes are drier. In the meantime, you can help me peel a few potatoes for the missus.”

He chatted with her while they worked. She was halfway through talking about her third cousin's varicose veins when she glanced at the clock.
"Lawks! It' will be dark soon," she exclaimed "I'd better wrap them things up."
She was a good as her word, and with a few words of thanks, was on his way with a few extra vegetables, a container of drippings, and a square of chocolate well wrapped in newspaper.


*https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-tyne-16494120
Last edited by tiffinata on 02 Sep 2018, 07:14, edited 1 time in total.
'....you cannot flout Nature with impunity. Treat Nature with respect, and she will tolerate you, even encourage you; but treat her with contempt, and your days are numbered.' Hits the Trail
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Re: Biggles Pulls it Off A second offering- Tiffinata

Postby tiffinata » 02 Sep 2018, 07:11

He found the old rail line easily enough and followed it along. It was quite overgrown in places, and more than once he had to force his way through a thicket. Just on dusk he came across a place where a sunken laneway had once crossed the rail line. Nearby was an old hut built out of railway sleepers. The walls were in poor condition, but the roof would keep out the worst of the weather, and he could light a fire to dry his clothes again. Gathering wood from the neglected crossing gates, and a few sticks, he whittled a little of the wood for fine kindling, and unwrapped his supplies from the newspaper. As he crumpled it to start the fire, a headline caught his eye.

“BIGGLES PULLS IT OFF”.

He quickly smoothed the page out again, and with difficulty read the article. His mouth formed the words as he read.

James Bigglesworth, the celebrated air ace, along with his business partner and fellow ace, the Hon Algernon Lacey and John Smyth, their wartime mechanic, have returned from South America.

Not many other men could convince the Consolidated Oil Company to part with an amphibian aircraft in lieu of wages, but somehow Biggles pulled it off. They have worked their passage back to Britain, by taking on various jobs along the way.

They spent some time in New Guinea, where they were commissioned by a representative of His Majesty’s Government, to bring back artefacts and fauna samples for the Museum. Dare I say there were rumours of gold as well?

The museum was especially pleased with the specimens of Paradisaea apoda, and unusual “dolis”, which are used to tell clan stories, very much like our modern-day puppet shows, your correspondent has been informed.

Bigglesworth, Lacey and Smyth will take a well- earned rest, once their aircraft is given a thorough overhaul at Brooklands.



He folded the article and put it away carefully. Lost in a dream of flying around the world like his heroes for a few moments, he came back down to earth as a cold breeze made itself known. Shivering, he lay the kindling around the remainder of the paper and put a few of the smaller pieces of wood ready to go when it caught. It was the work of a tense few minutes to get it to catch.

Satisfied it was in no danger of going out, he began to chop up his vegetables and to fry them in the dripping. It wasn’t long before the meal started to smell rather good. “Tomorrow I’ll try and catch a lift on one of the goods trains heading south,” he thought to himself, as he cracked his egg and stirred it round the revolting-looking mixture. “Hullo- that sounded like a gunshot. Someone must be potting rabbits. I could do with a bunny for tomorrow. Maybe they’ll come this way looking for shelter and I can ask.”

A sound outside made him lift his head. “Hullo there!" he called out in his shrill treble voice. "Don't stop to knock." His eyes opened wider as a man, his face a clammy pallor, crawled through the door.

“Put that fire out, Ginger- quick,” the man gasped.


And the rest, as they say, is history.
'....you cannot flout Nature with impunity. Treat Nature with respect, and she will tolerate you, even encourage you; but treat her with contempt, and your days are numbered.' Hits the Trail
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Re: Biggles Pulls it Off A second offering- Tiffinata

Postby Tracer » 02 Sep 2018, 08:28

If you hadn't said how difficult this was to create, I'd never have known. It paints a deep and thoughtful picture. Superb.
pilots who had done a long tour and had that thousand-yard stare W. E. Johns
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Re: Biggles Pulls it Off A second offering- Tiffinata

Postby Foolscap » 02 Sep 2018, 09:12

Beautifully linked in to the taleas
Very well penned:-)
"If you're going to leave the beaten track the first thing is to make sure you've got your sense of humour with you."
--Biggles on Mystery Island.
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Re: Biggles Pulls it Off A second offering- Tiffinata

Postby Fairblue » 02 Sep 2018, 10:32

I really enjoyed this, Tiff, thank you.
The Decision to Survive - A good pilot is both born and made. The best would look upon his work as a combination of adventure and a serious mission. – Major General Sir Frederick Sykes
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Re: Biggles Pulls it Off A second offering- Tiffinata

Postby Kismet » 02 Sep 2018, 11:03

This is lovely, Tiff, and reads effortlessly. A nice expansion of the original story and I like 'borrowed day.' We have these!
'Major Bigglesworth' said Von Stalhein coldly, 'there are times when I seriously wonder if you were created by the devil just to annoy me.'
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Re: Biggles Pulls it Off A second offering- Tiffinata

Postby kylie_koyote » 02 Sep 2018, 13:48

Oh my goodness Tiff! You’ve outdone yourself! This is marvelous.
"For goodness sake stop that Yankee drawl, or you'll have us all doing it before you've finished."
"OK baby - sorry - I mean, righto."
"That's better."
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Re: Biggles Pulls it Off A second offering- Tiffinata

Postby Frecks » 02 Sep 2018, 15:39

Well done Tiff - I love this. All the detail and the lead up to meeting Biggles told from Ginger's point of view. Superb :D
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Re: Biggles Pulls it Off A second offering- Tiffinata

Postby alderaanian » 03 Sep 2018, 02:42

I really liked it! A nice dose of "feels" with that last line as it segues into Black Peril :)
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Re: Biggles Pulls it Off A second offering- Tiffinata

Postby StoneRoad » 03 Sep 2018, 12:17

Splendid and an easy read.
What a lovely view of Ginger before Black Peril.
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