Biggles Pulls it Off - Kylie

Biggles Pulls it Off - Kylie

Postby kylie_koyote » 02 Sep 2018, 06:09

Author’s Note: The dialogue is my own, and some artistic license has gone into it to make it fit the confines of the challenge, but all the salient points in this story actually happened to my grandfather when en route to and from New Guinea during the war.

To get some idea as to what the mess hall looked like in heavy seas, I submit this rather humorous YouTube video:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uOhT8pDuoqU

**

On board a ship home, out of Darwin, after Biggles in Borneo.

The airmen were staying in cabins, four or six to a room, in bunk beds. Biggles and his flight commanders were in one room, which had an entrance via the interior passageway, but also had accordion doors that opened onto the deck and offered a fine view of the ocean. The novelty of the view wore off quickly, but at least once a day there was something interesting to look at – whales, sharks, and flying fish were common.

They were required to keep the door shut after sunset, as the ship traveled in blackout conditions, and they all knew that even a lit match could be seen from a great distance, but as soon as possible in the mornings, someone (usually Biggles) opened the door to let in the sea breeze and sunshine.

Air Commodore Raymond had arranged the transportation, but their actual destination for this leg of the journey was classified. On board with them were several units of regular Army personnel and at least one hospital unit. Biggles at first thought they were headed for India, or possibly the island of Ceylon; however a few days out, he was standing on the deck in the early evening, staring up at the stars.

“That’s queer,” he commented to Algy, who was standing beside him, watching the phosphorous trail of the boat churned up in the sea by their engines as the ship’s crew performed their evening duties.

“What is?” Algy asked, naturally enough.

“We’re tracking too far to the west to go to India. Look at the stars.”

Algy shrugged. “Cape Town then, or maybe Durban?”

“Could be. I’ve got a compass in my kitbag,” Biggles said. “I’ll go and fetch it and we can try and…”

“Won’t do you no good, sirs, beggin’ your pardon,” said a passing seaman, who’d overheard them.

“Why not?” Biggles asked, surprised.

“The cap’n has turned on the ships degaussing apparatus,” the young sailor told him. “So your compass’ll just spin in circles, sir.”

Biggles sighed, thwarted. “I don’t like this not knowing where we’re going,” he commented in frustration to Algy, as the sailor departed into the darkness.

“Neither do I, but apart from star gazing, we’ve not got much in the way of choice, apparently,” Algy said dryly. “Luckily we’ve some experience at celestial navigation, but I wouldn’t call myself an expert at it by any stretch of the imagination.”

*

A few days later, Biggles rose first, as was his custom, and immediately upon standing upright he realized that the seas were rougher than they’d been the day before. However, he went to the outer door, intending to open it as he always did to get some fresh air. As soon as he unlatched it, the door ripped out of his hands and blew all the way open, rain and wind pouring into the compartment.

“What’s the big idea?” Algy complained, struggling out of his blankets and pulling himself upright with effort. They were joined by Bertie and Angus a moment later, and between the four of them, they managed to pull it shut again. They stood still for a moment, gasping with the sudden exertion and drenched in icy spray.

“Good gracious, old boy, that’s a bit of a snorter!” Bertie exclaimed, wiping rain water off his face with a towel.

They each dressed while lying prone in their bunks, because to try to stand, or even sit, was inviting disaster. At last he struggled upright and held onto the bedframe with one hand; he assisted Algy, who was on the top bunk, to climb down without causing himself an injury, and followed by Angus and Bertie, they headed down to breakfast.

They ran into some of the other members of the squadron on the way. “How are you feeling?” Biggles asked, bracing himself against a doorframe as the ship gave a sudden lurch.

“I’m all right,” Ginger said. “Nearly fell over when I got out of bed, but I haven’t felt queasy.”

“That’s good,” replied Biggles. The ship rolled again and Ginger staggered and nearly fell, much to the amusement of Tug and Taffy, who stood nearest him.

“It’ll be you next,” Ginger growled, righting himself with an effort.

They entered the mess hall. The service was cafeteria style, and they soon discovered it was nearly impossible to walk and hold one’s tray at the same time. The sailors who were serving the food had lashed themselves to the columns.

With difficulty, they made their way to an empty table. The tables were constructed with a rail around the edge, to prevent food and cutlery from sliding off, and they seated themselves at their chosen table and began to tuck into breakfast. Biggles looked around. The mess wasn’t as crowded as it had been on previous days and he surmised (correctly) that many of his fellow passengers were feeling a bit seasick.

The PA system crackled to life. The daily announcements were often so garbled and distorted with static that they might as well have not made them at all, but this morning they were able to discern the following message.

“Heavy weather ahead.”

“You don’t say,” muttered Tug sarcastically, as his mug of hot chocolate slid down the table. Ginger caught it deftly and sent it sliding back, grinning, as the ship rolled the other way.

Taffy cupped his hands round his mouth to simulate the garbled PA system and said “Due to the weather conditions, shuffleboard is cancelled today.”

They all laughed. Suddenly the ship dropped, and there were a few muttered exclamations of annoyance and alarm. Then it rolled severely and plunged about, so much so that Ginger was afraid it might capsize. Everyone – and everything – that wasn’t tied to a column fell over and despite the table rails, they were instantly covered in what remained of their breakfast.

“What a disgusting mess!” Algy exclaimed, searching about for a napkin with which to dry his tea-soaked trousers while simultaneously removing pieces of toast from his hair.

Biggles wiped egg yolk off his face with a handkerchief and caught his breath, bracing himself against a bulkhead as he struggled to his feet. “Is anybody hurt?” he called out.

“I’ve banged my nose,” Ginger said, holding a blood-stained napkin to his face. “But I don’t think I’ve broken it.”

Ferocity probed around his mouth with his tongue. “I think I chipped a tooth,” he said. “But other than that, I think I’m all right.”

Biggles turned to Bertie, who looked quite put out. “What’s wrong?” he asked.

“I’ve lost my bally eyeglass,” exclaimed Bertie, staring in dismay at the sea of broken crockery, spilled food, and crawling humans trying to extricate themselves from the morass.

**

All social activities and anything non-essential to the ship’s operation had been cancelled. The airmen had gathered in Biggles’ room to have a smoke and a chat. The boredom was palpable.

“We’ve got to do something,” Henry bemoaned.

“If you say that again, I shall knock your block off,” Tug grumbled.

“How about a puppet show?” Ginger suggested brightly.

Tug gave him a look. “Seriously?”

“Why not?” Ginger asked innocently. “What’s wrong with a puppet show? We’ve got socks aplenty…”

“No,” Tug said shortly.

“Fine,” Ginger huffed. “You come up with something then.”

Tug cast about the room. The ship rolled again and Bertie, who was seated in one of the chairs, slid toward them with a muttered exclamation of alarm. Tug grabbed the back of the chair as it went sliding by.

“This!” he cried triumphantly.

“What?” the others cried.

“Chair races.”

“I’m in,” Biggles grinned.

Ginger looked surprised. “You are?”

Biggles shrugged. “What else is there to do? Just … try not to get hurt, anybody,” he added as an afterthought.

Carrying two chairs, they all went in search of an unused passageway. It took a few tries before they found a long, straight stretch.

“Right, listen up!” called Biggles authoritatively, getting everyone’s attention. “First up will be Ginger versus Ferocity. Have a seat, lads.” Both of them complied, laughing, struggling to hold onto the bulkhead as the ship listed to starboard. “The winner will be the first one back to the starting location.” The ship rolled and began listing the other way. “Go!” shouted Biggles, stepping out of the way with alacrity.

Ginger and Ferocity sailed across the smooth deck, and just before they could bang into the opposite bulkhead, the ship listed the other way and they slid back again. Ferocity, being heavier, beat Ginger back to the starting point by about an inch, much to Ginger’s chagrin.

Next up were Tug and Tex. Tex was quite a bit heavier, but Tug supplemented his run by a good kick against the opposite bulkhead mid-roll, and Biggles declared it a draw.

Taffy and Henry went next. Being about the same size, there was much debate as to which of them would be first back. They reached the opposite wall at the same moment, and everyone watched with excitement as they began their return trip. One leg of Taffy’s chair hit a nearly invisible seam in the steel plating of the deck, however, and he pitched out, made a heroic effort to stay upright, but slid along the deck until he banged into a column with a clang. Everyone winced.

“I’m okay,” he cried, after he’d caught his breath, and everyone cheered.

“Oh good,” declared Henry cheerfully. “I win.”

Biggles, after only a momentary hesitation, announced that he was next up, and would be racing against Algy. His officers cheered.

The two of them struggled into their chairs with difficulty; the sea, it seemed, had become even rougher than before, if that were possible, and the boat was now rolling hard one way, and then the other.

Biggles held himself onto the seat and waited until Ginger’s shout of “Go!” and he kicked off from the bulkhead and slid sideways across the deck. He reached the far side of the room a half second before Algy, and was about to slide back the other way when an imperative voice called out harshly “Stop this nonsense this instant!”

So startled was Biggles (and Algy too) that they collided with one another as the ship rolled back the other way and ended up in a heap on the floor, the chairs falling with a clang and sliding in opposite directions.

Algy staggered to his feet, looking up into the irate eyes of a senior Army officer, a Colonel by the look of him, who had already begun shouting: “This is outrageous! Such wanton disregard for decency and the conduct becoming an officer! I’ll have you written up!”

“Sorry, sir,” Algy said, flushed with exertion as much as with embarrassment. “I…”

The Colonel continued his shouting, right over the top of Algy’s apology. “Who is your Commanding Officer?”

“Ah… that would be me,” Biggles said, accepting Algy’s hand and pulling himself upright – no easy feat as the ship continued to roll.

The Colonel looked astonished, as well he might. He paused in his tirade for a moment, his mouth hanging open in comical shock, but then continued on, directing his vituperation at Biggles this time, much to his chagrin. The officers of 666 Squadron bristled on behalf of their leader; a few even started to speak up, but Biggles shushed them with a gesture.

Biggles let him continue, noticing that the man appeared to get a bit green about the gills every time the ship would roll.

Finally the Colonel wore himself out. He shook his head as if trying to clear water from his ears. He swayed on his feet and clutched a doorway for support.

Biggles hesitated. “Are you all right, sir?” he finally asked.

“It’s this infernal rolling,” the Colonel muttered. His hand went to his abdomen. “I can’t seem to…” And with that, he covered his mouth suddenly with his hands and hurried away.

“Serves him right,” Tug muttered under his breath and those nearest him murmured their agreement.

“We can only hope he’s down for the rest of the trip,” Angus grumbled uncharitably.

**

At lunch time, they returned to the mess hall, which the kitchen staff had done their best to clean up from the breakfast disaster. Once again the servers had tied themselves to the columns to prevent falls and spilling hot food and liquids everywhere.

The rolling had abated somewhat, but it was still rougher than usual, and they struggled with their trays of food. Taffy nearly lost his lunch – literally, not figuratively – but was saved from disaster by a helpful seaman who caught his tray deftly as Taffy went sliding into a nearby table.

“Here you go, sir,” he said, grinning as he passed it back.

“Thanks,” gasped Taffy, clawing his way upright despite the listing of the ship.

“I’ve got lots of practice,” the young man grinned.

“Uh oh, look who’s here,” muttered Ferocity, looking up with hooded eyes at the doorway as the Colonel appeared in the mess.

“Easy, lads,” Biggles cautioned, as they shifted uncomfortably in their seats.

“But he…” Ginger started.

“Relax,” Biggles soothed. “Let it go, you mutinous rogues,” he added, his lips twitching. “I appreciate your ire on my behalf, but for goodness’ sake calm yourselves before you get us into even more trouble.”

His officers subsided, but looked unhappy.

They looked up again suddenly as the Colonel directed a stream of invective at a young sailor, who had been trying to poor the coffee when the ship had rolled suddenly and the hot liquid splashed onto the Colonel’s shoes. Then, as before, the Colonel looked suddenly ill and hurried from the room.

“He can’t seem to find his sea legs,” Biggles commented. “I suppose the prolonged lack of anything resembling nutrition might be cause for his current emotional state.”

Tug snorted. “I think he’s just a miserable sod who wouldn’t know a good time if it bit him on the…”

“That will be all, Carrington,” Biggles chided, but his eyes twinkled.

Lunch over, Biggles announced that he would host a tournament of cards in his cabin, that being unlikely to attract the displeasure of anyone. He told everyone to assemble there in about thirty minutes and they all rose from the table, staggering slightly as the ship tossed yet again.

On the way out, some of the younger airmen hung back and Ginger gave the mess waiter a sympathetic smile. “Is that Colonel out of sorts because he’s ill, or is he always like that?”

The waiter looked at him with amused exasperation. “I’m afraid he’s always like that, sir.”

“You poor buggers,” Tug commented.

“I wonder if there’s any way we might help you fellows out,” Taffy murmured.

The waiter eyed Taffy suspiciously. “Don’t be getting in any trouble,” he warned. “Or there’ll be hell to pay.”

“I’m not suggesting breaking any laws,” Taffy said quickly. “But it’s quite apparent that he suffers horribly from seasickness.”

Ferocity smiled wolfishly. “It’d be a real shame if he got sick again.”

“It would,” Tex agreed. “A real shame.” He winked at the young mess waiter. “You’d best leave now, sonny, so you can maintain what the lawyers call plausible deniability.”

The young sailor lost no time in making himself scarce.

Ginger looked at them suspiciously. “What are you going to do?” he asked nervously. “Biggles won’t be happy if you…”

“Calm down, crankypants,” Tex drawled. “Nobody’s gonna be breaking the law.”

Ginger raised a skeptical eyebrow.

“You can trust me, I’m a policeman,” Tex grinned.

Ginger snorted. “That does not convince me.”

Tex laughed and went to the one of the cabinets along the far bulkhead and selected a large pitcher. He paused for a moment as a thought occurred to him. “You need to run along now,” he told Ginger.

“Why?” Ginger exclaimed indignantly.

“Because,” drawled the Texan. “Biggles will ask you what happened. And you need to be able to look him in the eye with a straight face and say ‘I don’t know.’ He can tell when you’re fibbing, so … off you go.” Tex made a shooing motion with his hands.

Ginger laughed softly to himself as he walked away, holding onto first one bulkhead and then other as the ship rolled about violently.

Taffy, Tug, and Tex exchanged glances once they were sure Ginger was out of earshot.

“What’s your plan, Tex?” Taffy breathed.

Tex hefted the pitcher and passed it to Tug, who stood nearest the sink. “Fill that up, would ya, pal?” he asked. Tug complied, looking faintly puzzled, and passed it back.

“C’mon,” Tex whispered conspiratorially, and headed up the passageway.

Finally they stood outside the Colonel’s cabin. He could be heard within, moaning faintly.

Tex put his a finger to his lips. First he groaned loudly. Then he made a retching noise and poured the contents of the pitcher out suddenly onto the floor. As a simulation, it was quite effective, and Taffy felt himself go queasy, although he struggled mightily to suppress the sensation.

The three of them hurried away rapidly, as they could hear the Colonel becoming very ill in his quarters.

“That was… kind of mean. Do you think we should alert sickbay?” Taffy asked, once they were a safe distance away.

“And say what, exactly?” Tug replied sarcastically.

“That we heard the Colonel chucking his guts about, and thought maybe the doctor should know…” Taffy suggested.

Tex made a face. “If it will make you feel better, be my guest,” he sighed. “But I think he deserves it.”

“I’ll just pop down to sickbay,” Taffy said.

“You’re just volunteering because you like that nurse with the dimples,” Tug muttered cynically.

“Your point is…?” Taffy replied, grinning.

**

Later that afternoon, Taffy struggled to the door frame and, holding on with both hands, stuck his head into the room. Biggles, Angus, Algy, and Ginger were seated round a table, their chairs lashed to the bedframes. The others were scattered in various places around the room, some sitting and some lying on the beds.

Those in the middle of the room were attempting to play bridge, using books to weigh down the cards. Biggles looked up as Taffy appeared round the frame.

“Hullo, what cheer,” Taffy greated brightly. “How is everyone?”

“None of us has been sick - yet - so that’s good news,” Ginger grinned.

“The good Colonel hasn’t been so lucky. He’s horribly ill,” Taffy told them, sliding across to the opposite side of the room as the ship rolled violently. He collected himself once he was on the far side. “I hear he’ll be looked after by one of the nurses for awhile, and confined to quarters, probably until we get into port.”

“I suppose I should feel sorry for him, but I really don’t,” Biggles admitted candidly.

“Still, the man’s ill. What a shame,” Algy murmured, grabbing onto his cards before the slid off the table, winking at Ginger.

Biggles’ lips twitched. “A damned shame. I don’t suppose you lot had anything to do with that?” he asked.

Taffy affected an air of wounded innocence. “He’s seasick. It’s not like we poisoned him.”

“I just thought you might have… been involved somehow.”

Ginger looked at him suspiciously. “Why would you think that?”

Algy grinned. “What? Do you think we just sat around during the last war, twiddling our thumbs and darning our socks?”

They all laughed.

“What’s on the docket for the rest of the day, old boy?” Bertie enquired, holding onto the bedframe as the ship listed violently, and then suddenly it rolled the opposite direction and Bertie lost his footing and tumbled into Biggles, knocking both of them onto the floor. “Whoops. Sorry about that. Has anybody seen my eyeglass?”

Biggles sorted out his arms and legs with an effort and struggled to his feet.

“Seeing as the greatest obstacle to our entertainment has been removed, I am determined to beat all of you at chair racing,” he declared, hauling himself to the doorway hand over hand.

And so he did.

The End.
"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 - Kylie

Postby tiffinata » 02 Sep 2018, 06:30

Living proof in the ol' saying Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction'.
I suspect your grandfather got into a LOT of trouble.
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Re: Biggles Pulls it Off - Kylie

Postby Indian Civil Service » 02 Sep 2018, 07:47

Hilarious, KK! Great job!
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Re: Biggles Pulls it Off - Kylie

Postby Tracer » 02 Sep 2018, 08:22

Brilliant, KK, most enjoyable :cheers2:
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Re: Biggles Pulls it Off - Kylie

Postby Foolscap » 02 Sep 2018, 09:07

A wonderful tale, KK, very well done:-)
"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: Biggles Pulls it Off - Kylie

Postby Fairblue » 02 Sep 2018, 10:44

Really enjoyed that, KK. Some really delightful moments.
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Re: Biggles Pulls it Off - Kylie

Postby Kismet » 02 Sep 2018, 12:09

This is great fun, Kylie. So many good bits. I love the chair racing. I'm sure Biggles would have won.
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Re: Biggles Pulls it Off - Kylie

Postby kylie_koyote » 03 Sep 2018, 03:10

Thank you all for your kind words.
"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 - Kylie

Postby alderaanian » 03 Sep 2018, 03:12

I liked this! Feels very real.

Do you all get induced to vomit just listening to the noise of it though? I thought it was a visual or at least multi-sensory trigger. :D
I work in healthcare and I'm pretty immune to the multi-sensory experience but sometimes I do still have to look away!
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Re: Biggles Pulls it Off - Kylie

Postby kylie_koyote » 03 Sep 2018, 03:13

My son has puked on me enough times that I think I’m immune but my husband is prone to sympathy sickness, from either auditory or visual stimuli.
"For goodness sake stop that Yankee drawl, or you'll have us all doing it before you've finished."
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Re: Biggles Pulls it Off - Kylie

Postby kylie_koyote » 03 Sep 2018, 03:17

alderaanian wrote:I liked this! Feels very real.


That’s ‘cause it is!

My grandfather was a great one for telling stories of the lighter side of wartime, and this was one of his favorites. :lol:

This particular episode took place just after the end of the war when they were on their way home from Japan in November of ‘45. He was most distressed that the storm was so bad on Thanksgiving Day that they had to make due with sandwiches and couldn’t have turkey and mashed potatoes.
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Re: Biggles Pulls it Off - Kylie

Postby kylie_koyote » 03 Sep 2018, 03:20

Oh, also, the colonel that they made so sick, in real life he was so dehydrated he had to be hooked up to an IV in the sickbay for *days*. (They didn’t mess around with their pranks in those days!)
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Re: Biggles Pulls it Off - Kylie

Postby Fairblue » 03 Sep 2018, 08:28

kylie_koyote wrote:Oh, also, the colonel that they made so sick, in real life he was so dehydrated he had to be hooked up to an IV in the sickbay for *days*. (They didn’t mess around with their pranks in those days!)

No. My father spoke of the medics, who, when in Italy, where oranges were plentiful, would inject one with a sleeping drug and give it to the Sergeant Major.
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Re: Biggles Pulls it Off - Kylie

Postby Tracer » 03 Sep 2018, 08:41

Fairblue wrote:
kylie_koyote wrote:Oh, also, the colonel that they made so sick, in real life he was so dehydrated he had to be hooked up to an IV in the sickbay for *days*. (They didn’t mess around with their pranks in those days!)

No. My father spoke of the medics, who, when in Italy, where oranges were plentiful, would inject one with a sleeping drug and give it to the Sergeant Major.



:lol: Brilliant!!!!!
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Re: Biggles Pulls it Off - Kylie

Postby StoneRoad » 03 Sep 2018, 12:37

I agree - That's Brilliant, Kylie.
Especially as based on real life.
It sounds as if the ship has encountered the tail end of a tropical storm.

I've a had a few ferry crossings that were most definitely not flat calms, but nothing quite like that.
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Re: Biggles Pulls it Off - Kylie

Postby kylie_koyote » 04 Sep 2018, 14:08

Here's a photo of them in calmer seas, enjoying a bit of gentle exercise.

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Re: Biggles Pulls it Off - Kylie

Postby Wanderer » 05 Sep 2018, 10:24

alderaanian wrote:Do you all get induced to vomit just listening to the noise of it though? I thought it was a visual or at least multi-sensory trigger. :D
I work in healthcare and I'm pretty immune to the multi-sensory experience but sometimes I do still have to look away!

Great story KK. Re induced vomit. Decades ago a friend of mine was on a school coach tour feeling very motion sick. Another friend leaned over and told him "Cream buns. Just imagine it. Cream oozing out all over...." and was promptly vomited all over. Cause and effect, really, and quite single (auditory) sensory. What else are friends for?
(Raymond) "'It's the early bird that catches the worm, you know,'
'... Not always. Sometimes he catches a slug—in the back of the neck,' contradicted Biggles.
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Re: Biggles Pulls it Off - Kylie

Postby Tracer » 05 Sep 2018, 14:22

Served him right....... :twisted:
pilots who had done a long tour and had that thousand-yard stare W. E. Johns
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