Ginger's Childhood

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Ginger's Childhood

Post by Foolscap » Tue Oct 23, 2018 2:24 pm

Postby Inactive User 149 » 16 Jan 2014, 10:58

I do not think Ginger had too bad a childhood. He seems to have been quite happy playing cowboys and Indians and sneaking about in woods with keepers about and also being in the scouts and planning to become a pilot when he left school. He also went to the pictures a lot - quite a busy childhood. He does not seem to have been close to his father and his father obviously hit him sometimes but I do not think he was beaten badly at all. Ginger is a very confident, warm, affectionate, caring person and I feel he must have had some experience of kindness etc. himself to develop those traits. He is much more gentle than Tug and Ferocity who came from slum backgrounds as well. I think they were both boxers and much harder, rougher characters than Ginger.
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Re: Ginger's Childhood

Post by Foolscap » Tue Oct 23, 2018 2:25 pm

Postby Spitfire666 » 16 Jan 2014, 11:08

Jenny Rob wrote:
I do not think Ginger had too bad a childhood. He seems to have been quite happy playing cowboys and Indians and sneaking about in woods with keepers about and also being in the scouts and planning to become a pilot when he left school. He also went to the pictures a lot - quite a busy childhood.

I felt shocked and surprised when WEJ referred to Ginger almost forgetting his slum background. I always thought Ginger came from a similar background to me, allowing that most people would have been poorer as it was the 1920s/1930s. I remember going back to the books and trying to see where Ginger's background could be described as a slum, rather than very poor.
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Re: Ginger's Childhood

Post by Foolscap » Tue Oct 23, 2018 2:25 pm

Postby Inactive User 149 » 16 Jan 2014, 11:13

Yes I too was shocked when WEJ referred to Ginger's slum childhood. He surprised Algy in Black Peril with his knowledge of aircraft and he said he had read everything he could lay his hands on about flying which as we have said before was very much at odds with his spelling later in the book. Once Ginger had joined Biggles as his protégé his poor background was very rarely mentioned. I do not think he would have been such a well rounded character and so confident if he had been very poor - he must have been quite well educated by 1930s working class standards to obtain his flying certificate so quickly and also he had a crash course on morse code and radio operating in Air Commodore which did not seem to trouble him at all - he must have been able to spell well to do that. In Spain he is converting metric to imperial on the instrument panel without any problems at all and in & Co. although he has never flown solo abroad before he is quite capable of working out a compass course.
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Re: Ginger's Childhood

Post by Foolscap » Tue Oct 23, 2018 2:26 pm

Postby Tracer » 16 Jan 2014, 11:25

Whatever the home life, schooling was much more thorough in those days, and he would have had a good grounding in the 3 Rs plus the opportunity to read both in the school library and the public one.

The attitude to children was way different then from nowadays. They were the unavoidable side-effect of marriage and not particularly valued in many families. But slum background did mean a lot of freedom because out of school hours they pretty much ran wild.
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Re: Ginger's Childhood

Post by Foolscap » Tue Oct 23, 2018 2:26 pm

Postby Purple Pigeon » 16 Jan 2014, 12:47

I think the fact that Ginger ran away in the first place shows that he was not happy at home. And the way that he had almost forgotten the"slum in which he had been born" by Orient (only a few years later) is telling. It seems to me that the only reason someone would forget something like that (apart from extreme trauma) would be if they made a conscious effort to do so - either because the memories were too upsetting or because they were ashamed of their background. I can't see Ginger doing the latter - he's never shown to be snobbish or ashamed of his origins.

It's always possible that he had a happy childhood up to a point and then things went pear-shaped at home.

One thing we do know about his childhood is that he did see drunken miners fighting in the streets.
"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."
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Re: Ginger's Childhood

Post by Foolscap » Tue Oct 23, 2018 2:26 pm

Postby Kismet » 16 Jan 2014, 13:08

I don't think that Ginger ran away because he was unhappy at home. I think he ran away because he wanted to do something he couldn't do at home.Teenagers aren't always very good at recognising the effects their actions have on other people, so Ginger may have been quite sure in his own mind that no one at home would be very upset by what he had done regardless of the truth of the matter.

He contacted his father by letter at Cramlington and by postcard in Sweden (?) so there wasn't a strong estrangement there at that point of time.

However, I think his new lifestyle would have made his old increasingly remote, and especially as the way he spoke etc changed, he would fit in less and less and perhaps become gradually estranged.

It would also depend on how many members of close family he had there: if there was only his father and he died, then he would have no strong reason to stay in touch with his roots and it would be easy to forget the slum he came from.

Ginger always looks forward and for distractions. He always volunteers to see what is over the next horizon or requests a side trip. This is a consistent mindset with leaving his family.
"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."
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Re: Ginger's Childhood

Post by Foolscap » Tue Oct 23, 2018 2:27 pm

Postby Inactive User 149 » 16 Jan 2014, 13:14

I do not think Ginger was particularly unhappy at home just that he wanted a very different life. It says in Spain that Biggles and Algy mean more to him than the rest of the world. I think this and being so keen on flying and having adventures would mean that he did not look back too much. I think it is Flies South where it says that he was never so happy as when he was in the air.
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Re: Ginger's Childhood

Post by Foolscap » Tue Oct 23, 2018 2:27 pm

Postby kylie_koyote » 16 Jan 2014, 14:27

There's one small line that has always tugged at the edge of my brain, and I forget what book it's from, but it's in one of the later Air Police stories. Biggles and Ginger are on the trail of someone whose mother has recently passed away and they come to the cemetery. Biggles said "If your mother had just died, what would you do?" and Ginger responds "I should go into the cemetery and think about her", and they walk over to a bench and find several cigarette butts on the ground near her grave.

I think this is the only time Ginger's mother is ever mentioned, however obliquely.

I think it is telling that Ginger writes to his father in Black Peril. Not to his family, but specifically to his father. Perhaps it was just the two of them by this point, although you'd think if it was just him and his dad, his father would've been a little bit more anxious about his welfare. Maybe Ginger was just one less mouth to feed and he had several other little ones to worry about. But the fact that Ginger doesn't mention his mother here is, I feel, significant. If he had one, I think he would write to her too, or address his letters to both parents.
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Re: Ginger's Childhood

Post by Foolscap » Tue Oct 23, 2018 2:28 pm

Postby Inactive User 149 » 16 Jan 2014, 14:39

That line is in one of the Air Police short stories. I always wonder about it. I do not think Ginger's mother could have been alive when he ran away. I do think it was just Ginger and his father at home - there is never any mention of anyone else.
"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."
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Re: Ginger's Childhood

Post by Foolscap » Tue Oct 23, 2018 2:28 pm

Postby Crazy Man Michael » 16 Jan 2014, 15:09

Jenny Rob wrote:
That line is in one of the Air Police short stories. I always wonder about it. I do not think Ginger's mother could have been alive when he ran away. I do think it was just Ginger and his father at home - there is never any mention of anyone else.



She probably ran off with the milkman.
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Re: Ginger's Childhood

Post by Foolscap » Tue Oct 23, 2018 2:28 pm

Postby Inactive User 149 » 16 Jan 2014, 15:11

Well at least he would have been cleaner :lol:
"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."
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Re: Ginger's Childhood

Post by Foolscap » Tue Oct 23, 2018 2:29 pm

Postby Fairblue » 16 Jan 2014, 15:15

kylie_koyote wrote:
There's one small line that has always tugged at the edge of my brain, and I forget what book it's from, but it's in one of the later Air Police stories. Biggles and Ginger are on the trail of someone whose mother has recently passed away and they come to the cemetery. Biggles said "If your mother had just died, what would you do?" and Ginger responds "I should go into the cemetery and think about her", and they walk over to a bench and find several cigarette butts on the ground near her grave.

I think this is the only time Ginger's mother is ever mentioned, however obliquely.


It's in 'Chinese Puzzle' , KK - 'The Case of The Missing Constable'. Ginger's reply is obviously the sort of response anybody would make. Wonder if it made Biggles think of his own mother?
"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."
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Re: Ginger's Childhood

Post by Foolscap » Tue Oct 23, 2018 2:29 pm

Postby Inactive User 149 » 16 Jan 2014, 15:33

I think it is fairly safe to say that both of their mother's were dead at this point and they both probably thought of their own mothers at the time.
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Re: Ginger's Childhood

Post by Foolscap » Tue Oct 23, 2018 2:30 pm

Postby Kismet » 16 Jan 2014, 15:34

kylie_koyote wrote:
There's one small line that has always tugged at the edge of my brain, and I forget what book it's from, but it's in one of the later Air Police stories. Biggles and Ginger are on the trail of someone whose mother has recently passed away and they come to the cemetery. Biggles said "If your mother had just died, what would you do?" and Ginger responds "I should go into the cemetery and think about her", and they walk over to a bench and find several cigarette butts on the ground near her grave.

I think this is the only time Ginger's mother is ever mentioned, however obliquely.

I think it is telling that Ginger writes to his father in Black Peril. Not to his family, but specifically to his father. Perhaps it was just the two of them by this point, although you'd think if it was just him and his dad, his father would've been a little bit more anxious about his welfare. Maybe Ginger was just one less mouth to feed and he had several other little ones to worry about. But the fact that Ginger doesn't mention his mother here is, I feel, significant. If he had one, I think he would write to her too, or address his letters to both parents.



I think in those days you might write to the father as head of the household and just send your love to your mother. Husbands, I think, still had the right to see their wives correspondance too. Wives had fewer rights than they do now.
"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."
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Re: Ginger's Childhood

Post by Foolscap » Tue Oct 23, 2018 2:30 pm

Postby Inactive User 149 » 16 Jan 2014, 15:43

I agree that husbands had a lot more rights that wives in those days but in actual fact Ginger does not mention his mother at all in any way so I think it is safe to assume that she was not on the scene when he ran away from home. WEJ tells us so much of Ginger's thoughts and feelings throughout the series of books that I am sure some reference would have been made to his mother if she was still alive and living at home when he left. My money is on her running away with the milkman :lol:
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Re: Ginger's Childhood

Post by Foolscap » Tue Oct 23, 2018 2:30 pm

Postby Sizzling Sausages » 16 Jan 2014, 22:45

Kismet wrote:
I think in those days you might write to the father as head of the household

A common practice then, and something my mother still does to my wife (which impresses her no end!) is to address the letter to the wife using the husband's name, eg 'Mrs. William Johns'.
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Re: Ginger's Childhood

Post by Foolscap » Tue Oct 23, 2018 2:31 pm

Postby kylie_koyote » 16 Jan 2014, 22:52

My (entirely imaginary) backstory is that Ginger's mom died shortly before he "hopped it". I've nothing to back this up except that he seems to be a kind person who had some affection in his early life, and if she was still alive when he left, surely she would've made some attempt at keeping in touch with him. I can't imagine I'd just shrug and say "oh well" if my son ran away and wrote that he'd hooked up with a couple of adventurers in the big city. Ginger doesn't go off and take leave/holidays (that we're told of) where he might reasonably go 'home' to visit family, and by "Orient" he's nearly forgotten it altogether.
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Re: Ginger's Childhood

Post by Foolscap » Tue Oct 23, 2018 2:31 pm

Postby Tommy Smith » 17 Jan 2014, 07:39

Which would tie in with the fact he never mentions any siblings. Given the large families that were around at that time I wonder if she died much earlier.

(Or she was permanently pregnant, on the gin and he was the eldest!)
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Re: Ginger's Childhood

Post by Foolscap » Tue Oct 23, 2018 2:32 pm

Postby Purple Pigeon » 17 Jan 2014, 09:31

In Black Mask Ginger says he doesn't have any brothers (although I suppose he could have had some who were now deceased).

I'm also of the opinion that Ginger would been described as writing home to the family or his parents in Black Peril if he actually had a mother and not just his father. After all it's always taken for granted that mothers worry (look at Algy's). In the Gimlet books Copper is always going on about writing home to mother.
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Re: Ginger's Childhood

Post by Foolscap » Tue Oct 23, 2018 2:32 pm

Postby Inactive User 149 » 17 Jan 2014, 10:34

I totally agree Purple Pigeon if Ginger had had a mother I am sure he would have kept in touch with her. Ginger has such a kind loving nature he must have got it from somewhere and certainly not his father who obviously hit him. I think it is possible that Ginger's mother died when he was fairly young or he would have still been upset when he ran away and he does not mention his mother at all. I think it is most likely that she was a very good mother to him when he was young and then died at some point when he would have been heartbroken but perhaps got over it after a while - looking ahead to leaving home and learning to fly would have helped him. If I had a son I would not want him to go off with a couple of adventurers but as it happened Ginger could not have been happier with them :)
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Re: Ginger's Childhood

Post by Foolscap » Tue Oct 23, 2018 2:33 pm

Postby Fairblue » 17 Jan 2014, 11:15

Jenny Rob wrote:
If I had a son I would not want him to go off with a couple of adventurers but as it happened Ginger could not have been happier with them :)

Nor could he have picked a better two if he'd tried :pilot: :crazypilot:
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Re: Ginger's Childhood

Post by Foolscap » Tue Oct 23, 2018 2:33 pm

Postby Tracer » 17 Jan 2014, 11:43

Don't forget the impact of the wars. My father was born in 1908 and had brothers he'd never met, killed before he was born. And one brother was gassed in WW1aged 19 and died in his late 30s from the after-effects. Ginger could have lost brothers down the mine too.

Women didn't live all that long either because of childbirth issues, and also because when food was short, they gave it to their husbands first and children next. This was common in my childhood too.
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Re: Ginger's Childhood

Post by Foolscap » Tue Oct 23, 2018 2:33 pm

Postby Inactive User 149 » 17 Jan 2014, 11:45

I do agree but I think WEJ wanted to make Ginger Biggles' protégé without much reference to his family at all.
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Re: Ginger's Childhood

Post by Foolscap » Tue Oct 23, 2018 2:34 pm

Postby Kismet » 17 Jan 2014, 12:25

If Ginger's mother had died when he was very small, he probably would have been given to a relative who had or wanted a family, as a man wouldn't be able to look after a small child and work. This was very common and no formal adoption procedures were followed, just some money sent to cover expenses if they were lucky.
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Re: Ginger's Childhood

Post by Foolscap » Tue Oct 23, 2018 2:36 pm

Postby Inactive User 149 » 17 Jan 2014, 12:38

Yes of course I had not thought of that. I should think then it would be most likely that she had died when he was about twelve or thirteen - old enough to stay with his father.
"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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