Biggles in Africa

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Biggles in Africa

Post by kylie_koyote » Tue Oct 23, 2018 6:24 pm

Biggles in Africa
Postby Inactive User 149 » 29 Nov 2013, 06:12

Just starting to read this again. I always find the start of this book quite odd when Algy and Ginger come into the room together and it was obvious that they had come straight from the bathroom - does that mean they had been in the bathroom together? Would they actually share the sink and shave at the same time or had one waited for the other before going in to breakfast together?
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Re: Biggles in Africa

Post by kylie_koyote » Tue Oct 23, 2018 6:24 pm

Re: Biggles in Africa
Postby Kismet » 29 Nov 2013, 07:28

Is Ginger up to shaving? Flies South says ' in many respects he (Ginger) was now grown up' but that's four books on from in Africa. The preceeding one, and Co, just refers to him as 'lad' or 'boy' and there is only very indirect evidence as to how grown up he is.

Have they been in the bathroom together? I've spent a full cup of coffee considering this one, thanks Jenny.

School and the RFC would require the sharing of communal facilities so the experience of sharing a bathroom would probably be there for Biggles and Algy, but would this carry over into a domestic setting?

Does the flat have a bathroom with all the facilities in one room, or are the sink, bath and toilet in little separate rooms - I've seen a number of turn of the century houses with this arrangement?

How long do they actually spend in the bathroom? They are always having baths but it seems to be a quick slosh and out rather than a good soak.

OK. I'm willing to imagine one in the bath, whilst the other cleans his teeth / shaves, both moving fairly briskly. I would prefer to imagine a sequential arrangement, where one had the bathroom and then the other, but I cannot see why they would not go separately to the breakfast table if this was the case.
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Re: Biggles in Africa

Post by kylie_koyote » Tue Oct 23, 2018 6:24 pm

: Biggles in Africa
Postby Inactive User 149 » 29 Nov 2013, 07:37

Yes that is my point. Of course if Ginger did not shave he could have had a quick bath while Algy was shaving. I too have often wondered just how grown up Ginger was in the very early books. Biggles always refers to him as a little blighter or kid or lad and in Hits the Trail he calls him an "impudent brat" and when Ginger wants to go with him he says "it is no job for a kid". Of course when they are off the beaten track with just the plane or a tent they would be together all the time but I suppose they could turn their backs while they changed into their pyjamas. I always find it notable in Spain when they are "totally denuded" and sent into the bathroom together and of course in South Ginger jumps into the pool completely naked so they must undress in front of each other sometimes. I think Biggles and Algy would be quite happy doing that but in Black Peril Biggles does not take his jacket and trousers off until Ginger has gone.
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Re: Biggles in Africa

Post by kylie_koyote » Tue Oct 23, 2018 6:24 pm

Re: Biggles in Africa
Postby Kismet » 29 Nov 2013, 07:58

but in Black Peril Biggles does not take his jacket and trousers off until Ginger has gone.


I think that might be the diffference between getting undressed in the presence of a stranger and getting undressed in the presence of a colleague or friend.

In Biggles and Co, p77/8, Ginger wakes Biggles up with a cup of tea (in the hope that Biggles will have changed his mind about going alone to resue Algy) and Biggles talks to him as he gets dressed.

In Biggles in the Orient p87 Raymond goes into Biggles's room before he (Biggles) had finished dressing,and Biggles just carries on getting ready whilst they talk: washing out his shaving kit is mentioned, as is tying his tie, putting on his tunic and, of course, lighting a cigarette.
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Re: Biggles in Africa

Post by kylie_koyote » Tue Oct 23, 2018 6:25 pm

Re: Biggles in Africa
Postby Tommy Smith » 29 Nov 2013, 13:15

Chapter 8 of Air Commodore sort of looks like he could have delivered a whole 4 page conversation starkers standing on the hull of the flying boat :D
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Re: Biggles in Africa

Post by kylie_koyote » Tue Oct 23, 2018 6:25 pm

Re: Biggles in Africa
Postby Kismet » 29 Nov 2013, 13:24

If I remember that one correctly, there is actually no mention of him getting dressed at all, just flying off to the destroyer.
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Re: Biggles in Africa

Post by kylie_koyote » Tue Oct 23, 2018 6:25 pm

Re: Biggles in Africa
Postby SaintedAunt » 29 Nov 2013, 17:44

He might of course have just sponged down his top half ;) All he had was a well-worn strip of towel. And was it his personal well-worn strip or had Algy/Ginger already made it damp?

Quite a cosy little domestic scene really with Ginger doing his technical stuff, Biggles getting sort of clean and Algy tending his ant bites. Unusually for them, no mention of breakfast but maybe Ginger had already got that for them… Getting the food out seemed to be one of his roles along with mending the plane while Biggles watched… :)
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Re: Biggles in Africa

Post by kylie_koyote » Tue Oct 23, 2018 6:25 pm

Re: Biggles in Africa
Postby Kismet » 30 Nov 2013, 05:50

He might of course have just sponged down his top half ;) All he had was a well-worn strip of towel. And was it his personal well-worn strip or had Algy/Ginger already made it damp?


If he was sponging himself down briskly as described, then I would have thought his bottom half, if clothed , would be soaked. And, sadly, if weight and space considerations are so limited that only a strip of towel can be taken, then it was probably a shared strip. I hope they rinsed it out and let it dry frequently and didn't use it for wiping oily hands (Ginger).

I think Ginger is quite small in the earliest books. There are occasional references to him not being full-grown: in the Black Peril Biggles is trying to make out what is on the float of a drifting plane and says 'It's too small for a man. Great Scott it's Ginger!' but by Biggles Flies West when they dress in the abandoned pirate clothes, Ginger has a shirt and trousers like Biggles and Algy, and it is Dick whom everything is too big for.
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Re: Biggles in Africa

Post by kylie_koyote » Tue Oct 23, 2018 6:25 pm

Re: Biggles in Africa
Postby Tommy Smith » 30 Nov 2013, 06:10

'Down' means, well... down. (I quite like the 'It's my aircraft, I'm the boss and I'll stand on the front of it naked if I want to while having a long conversation' thing about it). Maybe they'd just cut one towel into three strips? Please. 'Well worn' as well, none of your fluffy bath towels here, these chaps are real men.

I shouldn't think unless strangers, or perish the thought ladies, were present they were overly bothered. I doubt Ginger ever owned swimming trunks at all when he lived at home. (There is a full page pic of Ginger exiting a pool somewhat sharpish somewhere wearing nothing but a horrified expression having encountered unexpected wildlife, seen that one Jennifer?).

PS all that passive smoking and lack of exercise probably accounted for his stunted growth.
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Re: Biggles in Africa

Post by kylie_koyote » Tue Oct 23, 2018 6:25 pm

Re: Biggles in Africa
Postby Kismet » 30 Nov 2013, 06:50

(There is a full page pic of Ginger exiting a pool somewhat sharpish somewhere wearing nothing but a horrified expression having encountered unexpected wildlife, seen that one Jennifer?).


Flies South.

The bit that baffles me, is that whilst they are quite happy to wash and get dressed in front of each other, they seem to go swimming in their undergarments and always wear pyjamas.
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Re: Biggles in Africa

Post by kylie_koyote » Tue Oct 23, 2018 6:25 pm

Re: Biggles in Africa
Postby Tommy Smith » 30 Nov 2013, 07:43

In Fails to Return Ginger opted to swim in trousers and shirt, as there would be ladies present at the other end. :o
Biggles just went in his pants. Because he's hard. :D
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Re: Biggles in Africa

Post by kylie_koyote » Tue Oct 23, 2018 6:25 pm

Re: Biggles in Africa
Postby SaintedAunt » 30 Nov 2013, 07:46

Tommy Smith wrote:
In Fails to Return Ginger opted to swim in trousers and shirt, as there would be ladies present at the other end. :o
Biggles just went in his pants. Because he's hard. :D

No, because he knew that Algy was bringing his kit :lol:
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Re: Biggles in Africa

Post by kylie_koyote » Tue Oct 23, 2018 6:26 pm

Re: Biggles in Africa
Postby SaintedAunt » 30 Nov 2013, 07:49

Tommy Smith wrote:
… There is a full page pic of Ginger exiting a pool somewhat sharpish somewhere wearing nothing but a horrified expression having encountered unexpected wildlife, seen that one Jennifer?

I bet you wouldn't be allowed to put that illustration in a children's book these days...
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Re: Biggles in Africa

Post by kylie_koyote » Tue Oct 23, 2018 6:26 pm

Re: Biggles in Africa
Postby Kismet » 30 Nov 2013, 08:51

Tommy Smith wrote:
In Fails to Return Ginger opted to swim in trousers and shirt, as there would be ladies present at the other end. :o
Biggles just went in his pants. Because he's hard. :D


Biggles was issuing instructions in front of the ladies as soon as he got his slacks on. You're right, he's hard.
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Re: Biggles in Africa

Post by kylie_koyote » Tue Oct 23, 2018 6:26 pm

Re: Biggles in Africa
Postby SopwithCamel » 30 Nov 2013, 08:59

Oh why oh did you have to put those images in my mind, Jennifer and Kismet?

Regarding Ginger and Algy, I don't think they were in the bathroom together (I really don't). I do think it's more likely that Algy was shaving and perhaps Ginger was leaning in the doorway talking to him until he got done, and then they went to breakfast together.
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Re: Biggles in Africa

Post by kylie_koyote » Tue Oct 23, 2018 6:26 pm

Re: Biggles in Africa
Postby Kismet » 30 Nov 2013, 09:13

Blame WEJ - he's the one that wrote these things. I just have a questioning and curious mind.
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Re: Biggles in Africa

Post by kylie_koyote » Tue Oct 23, 2018 6:26 pm

Re: Biggles in Africa
Postby Fairblue » 30 Nov 2013, 10:14

Tommy Smith wrote:
In Fails to Return Ginger opted to swim in trousers and shirt, as there would be ladies present at the other end. :o
Yes, a great example of humour at a time when they were likely to be blown up/shot/killed or otherwise inconvenienced.

Biggles says "You’ll find it a bit parky, flying in your birthday suit!’
And Ginger's reply is a hoot. ‘You don’t suppose I’m going to join the party looking like Adam, do you?’ answered Ginger coldly. ‘There are ladies, don’t forget.'

And really, all said as though it's nothing unusual about flying around wearing nothing but what nature intended.
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Re: Biggles in Africa

Post by kylie_koyote » Tue Oct 23, 2018 6:26 pm

Re: Biggles in Africa
Postby Fairblue » 30 Nov 2013, 10:29

I'm wondering whether a strip of towel simply meant a long thin towel, similar to the roller towels you get today. They certainly wouldn't travel with their huge fluffy, bath towels so probably their small kit contained one towel each. Can't see them sharing, somehow when it's not an absolute necessity.
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Re: Biggles in Africa

Post by kylie_koyote » Tue Oct 23, 2018 6:26 pm

Re: Biggles in Africa
Postby SaintedAunt » 30 Nov 2013, 10:52

This has been a delightfully entertaining thread - are there any other occasions we've missed ? :D
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Re: Biggles in Africa

Post by kylie_koyote » Tue Oct 23, 2018 6:27 pm

Re: Biggles in Africa
Postby Tommy Smith » 30 Nov 2013, 11:18

SopwithCamel wrote:
Oh why oh did you have to put those images in my mind, Jennifer and Kismet?

Regarding Ginger and Algy, I don't think they were in the bathroom together (I really don't). I do think it's more likely that Algy was shaving and perhaps Ginger was leaning in the doorway talking to him until he got done, and then they went to breakfast together.

A lot of bathrooms have two wash basins, or used to...they've both got to shave...
Vintage bathrooms.JPG
See? It would have taken forever to get ready otherwise....
I'll have to go read that now.
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Re: Biggles in Africa

Post by kylie_koyote » Tue Oct 23, 2018 6:27 pm

Re: Biggles in Africa
Postby Kismet » 30 Nov 2013, 11:22

My own personal favourite is in Goes to Warwhere Biggles is talking through his bedroom door to the untrustworthy general:
'Then be kind enough to wait in the next room whilst I get some clothes on' returned Biggles cheerfully.' I will send Lieutenant Lacey to entertain you'.

And the general comes up with what explanation for Biggles being unclothed in his bedroom with his second in command, a basket of flowers and a lingering scent of perfume?
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Re: Biggles in Africa

Post by kylie_koyote » Tue Oct 23, 2018 6:27 pm

Re: Biggles in Africa
Postby Tommy Smith » 01 Dec 2013, 05:33

Er, he just turns pale at what the 'entertainment' might entail and leaves swiftly?
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Re: Biggles in Africa

Post by kylie_koyote » Tue Oct 23, 2018 6:27 pm

Re: Biggles in Africa
Postby Kismet » 03 Jul 2014, 07:24
Inactive User 149 wrote:Just starting to read this again. I always find the start of this book quite odd when Algy and Ginger come into the room together and it was obvious that they had come straight from the bathroom - does that mean they had been in the bathroom together? Would they actually share the sink and shave at the same time or had one waited for the other before going in to breakfast together?
Oh why oh did you have to put those images in my mind, Jennifer and Kismet?

Regarding Ginger and Algy, I don't think they were in the bathroom together (I really don't). I do think it's more likely that Algy was shaving and perhaps Ginger was leaning in the doorway talking to him until he got done, and then they went to breakfast together.
You will all, no doubt, be as delighted as me, to discover that it appears, from my reading of contemporary-with-WEJ novelists, that it was perfectly OK for two men to be in the bathroom together, one in the bath and the other shaving so WEJ probably meant exactly what he wrote, that they had both come directly from the bathroom with the correct inference being that they had been in together.

My reading has given me two passages from mainstream, popular authors, which I will reproduce the highlights of below, but to summerise:

Source one is a Saint book, by Leslie Charteris.The Saint is a modern Robin Hood who preys on criminals and the immoral whilst protecting the innocent in ways not approved of by Scotland Yard. The Saint is in his bathroom and Peter, a sidekick, comes in to talk to him. Both, I hasten to add, have girlfriends.

Source two is a detective novel by Edmund Crispin. Fen, a married Oxford don, and Geoffrey, a composer who has just fallen in love, are now in their early forties but were undergraduates together, and are staying at the Deanery, as is Dutton, the sub-organist for the Cathedral. Fen has summoned his old friend to help out with the Cathedral organ due to a murder. One baths, the other shaves. Both talk.

The Brighter Buccaneer Leslie Charteris first published 1933 extracts from pp184 -6

Peter Quentin answered it, and returned after a few minutes to the bathroom where the Saint was washing his razor.
"It's today," he said.........(conversation about girls and crime)

Simon turned off the taps that were filling his bath, threw off his pyjamas, and sank into the warm water.
"You've been seeing quite a lot of her lately, haven't you?" he murmured...........(conversation about girls and crime)

Simon picked up the soap and lathered his legs thoughtfully. .(conversation about girls and crime).

He spread the lather over his arms and chest and shoulders, and submerged himself again. Then he said (conversation about girls and crime)

He stood up, twitched out the plug, and turned the tap of the cold shower. For a few seconds he stood under it, letting it stream down over him and laughing at the stinging brunt of it, rubbing the water over his arms and thighs and chest in a sheer pagan delight of hardiness; and then he climbed out and reached for a towel and cigarette, and his wet hand smote Peter between the shoulder blades.


Holy Disorders Edmund Crispin first published 1946 but set during the Second World War, extracts from pp109-11

He careered down the corridor to the bathroom, sponge bag and towel flowing gently behind him. A faint scuffling from within, as of rats disturbed at a meal, showed it to be occupied, conceivably by Fen. Geoffrey cautiously pushed open the door, and was confronted by the spectacle of Dutton, his face covered with soap, a cut throat razor brandished suicidally in the region of his jugular vein, and making gestures of vague pudency; Geoffrey retreated.......

Dutton having taken himself off, Geoffrey lay in a hot bath and reflected further on the events of the previous night. And as he reflected, an idea came into his mind..........

He was almost amiable when Fen came in, wearing a violent purple silk dressing gown and looking ruddier, lankier and more irrepressible than ever.
'I'm going to shave while you're having your bath,' he announced threateningly. 'Otherwise I shall be late for breakfast.' he lathered soap all over his face, flinging it freely about the room, and began making long, tearing passes at his cheeks and throat with a safety razor. 'Did you have a good night? That moth I caught is dead this morning.'...........

'And a pretty daft business that would be,' said Geoffrey. He fished for some invisible object by the side of the bath. 'here's a toy boat.' He put it on the water and pushed it to and fro.


In the second extract, I particularly note that there seems to be no lock on the bathroom door, and that it is OK to investigate who is within the bathroom, but there appear to be unspoken rules about who you might join in the bathroom.

All I have to say about the Saint books, is that his cigarette consumption makes Biggles's seem modest.
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Re: Biggles in Africa

Post by kylie_koyote » Tue Oct 23, 2018 6:27 pm

Re: Biggles in Africa
Postby Fairblue » 03 Jul 2014, 08:01

Kismet wrote:
All I have to say about the Saint books, is that his cigarette consumption makes Biggles's seem modest.


Is that possible? :smoking2:

Thank you for that very interesting bit of research, Kismet. I don't find it particularly strange that two men share a bathroom. As your reading shows, it was quite common. And certainly men in the forces would have no hangups about joint ablutions, they can't afford to. It's only fairly recently that this action has had questionable connotations put upon it.
"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 in Africa

Post by kylie_koyote » Tue Oct 23, 2018 6:28 pm

Re: Biggles in Africa
Postby Kismet » 03 Jul 2014, 08:06

Fairblue wrote:
Kismet wrote:
All I have to say about the Saint books, is that his cigarette consumption makes Biggles's seem modest.


Is that possible? :smoking2:




It says in one of the books that the Saint smokes 4 cigarettes an hour, say 60 a day. Certainly he is always reaching for one, lighting one, stubbing one..... :smoking:
"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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