What Possessions would they have?

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What Possessions would they have?

Postby Frecks » 17 Sep 2018, 15:52

I have just seen a vintage Cartier Dressing Table set which has been sold for a staggering sum of money and it made me wonder what sort of things Biggles would own. Would he have valuable items in the flat or would everything be very basic? We know they took a basic shaving kit with them on their missions because they were always having to leave them behind but would they have had cut glass and silver items in the flat? There were a lot of silver backed brushes and cut glass dressing table items available for men and women in the 1930s. Would they have expensive cuff links, dress studs and perhaps a good quality watch for dining out?
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Re: What Possessions would they have?

Postby kylie_koyote » 17 Sep 2018, 16:04

Biggles did - he is able to "dress" for dinner with Lord Lottison and Raymond with less than an hour's warning at the start of Air Commodore .

Algy would certainly have had several upperclass outfits for going to Monaco with Boris. Bertie too - he does the "season" in Monaco before the war. Golfing, tennis, boat racing... each one would require special outfits.
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Re: What Possessions would they have?

Postby Fairblue » 17 Sep 2018, 16:23

With the exception of Ginger, who may have acquired such items lTer, the other three would undoubtedly have had cuff links and dress studs. Perhaps Algy and Bertie may have acquired a collection from various relatives and Biggles would certainly have bought his own, if he hadn’t been given them. I think they may have varied in price, but I can’t see any of them not wearing anything that wasn’t of good quality. Their watches would have been of good quality too. When wearing evening dress they would more than likely have worn gold pocket watches with gold chains.
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Re: What Possessions would they have?

Postby Indian Civil Service » 17 Sep 2018, 16:40

They do have a lot of collected memorabilia from their travels. Bertie brings in hunting and outdoor equipment from his home in a few stories. There's all that cutglass they buy in Looks Back.
They got rid of the diamond tiara Boris sent them in Takes Charge...Mrs Symes may have drawn the line at cleaning THAT..
A few gifted items are displayed in the office...a jade fish from Lin Seng in Blue Moon, and a silver model of the Flying Crusader are what I can recall...
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Re: What Possessions would they have?

Postby Fairblue » 17 Sep 2018, 17:22

Indian Civil Service wrote:They do have a lot of collected memorabilia from their travels. Bertie brings in hunting and outdoor equipment from his home in a few stories. There's all that cutglass they buy in Looks Back.
They got rid of the diamond tiara Boris sent them in Takes Charge...Mrs Symes may have drawn the line at cleaning THAT..
A few gifted items are displayed in the office...a jade fish from Lin Seng in Blue Moon, and a silver model of the Flying Crusader are what I can recall...


Souvenirs from their travels has also been discussed here.

viewtopic.php?f=73&t=2136
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Re: What Possessions would they have?

Postby Kismet » 20 Sep 2018, 12:28

My personal opinion is that the flat will be fairly tidy but not pristine. Things will be pulled out and replaced, but not necessarily immediately. A book can stay on the arm of a chair for a little while. Everything will have a home: this will be ingrained into them from boarding school and the army. The quality of the furnishings will be good, but not particularly fashionable or the most expensive. Comfort will be of greater importance than style but it will be clear that it is a 'gentleman's residence'. It will not cross their collective minds to buy a decorative jar to put their spills in, but they will have a proper ashtray not an old shell case which would be inappropriate in the flat but suitable for the hanger. One of those ashtrays on a stand, perhaps, as Biggles is referred to having an ashtray at his elbow more than once.

There will be a few photographs, probably in plain silver frames of family members, maybe massed together on a small table in a corner, maybe in individual bedrooms. There will be a few devices advertised as storage solutions for gentlemen such as portmanteaux for papers, as I have never yet met a man who can resist a gadget. They had a tv set quite early, and a wireless.

There is at least one bookcase, on which the books may be arranged tidily or not: certainly Biggles's scrapbook is higgledy-piggledy. I imagine that there will be some pictures on the wall as it seems to be a fairly universal desire to decorate walls. They might be aviation related, or famous historical views, or bowls of chrysanthemums, or local scenes picked up when on holiday or working abroad. I tend towards the latter, although it is of course possible that they had a passion for van Gogh or Toulouse-Lutrec and picked up paintings very cheaply which would be worth a fortune later on. Now I have thought about it, I would say that of course Biggles picked up paintings by some unfashionable artist who turned out to be very collectable and valuable later on.

I don't think they had any china knick-knacks - Algy doesn't seem to know anything about old china and collecting in Noble Lord although he likes his tea in a cup and saucer (Deep Blue Sea). There might be a few souvenirs scattered around the room but nothing chosen for its decorative nature. I think there would be at least one decent rug / carpet, too, as Persian carpets seem to be one of those things a gentleman should know a little about and own one of. I'm sure that they looked at rugs in a souk or bazaar or somewhere in one of the early books, although I cannot recall which one.

There's a table for them to eat their breakfast at and put large books down - a breakfast table because, as gentlemen living in a flat, they would be eating out at lunch and dinner. Biggles has a desk. They would all have a bed, wardrobe, chest of drawers and dressing table (or some combination thereof). They might have silver backed hair brushes. They would probably keep their studs in a nicely shaped dish which had once contained shaving soap.

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Re: What Possessions would they have?

Postby Tommy Smith » 20 Sep 2018, 12:45

Drinks decanters, cocktail cabinet?

Did Biggles inherit any furniture from India via his father? Didn't he shoot a Tiger once? Was it made into a rug?

There is a Kinloch Castle in Scotland which is a timewarp of that era.
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Re: What Possessions would they have?

Postby Frecks » 20 Sep 2018, 14:07

I have often wondered about having a tray with drinks on it for my model flat but when Biggles needs brandy for medicinal purposes he sends Ginger out of the room to fetch it. Did they drink alcohol at home? Would they have it on a tray in the living room for visitors?
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Re: What Possessions would they have?

Postby kylie_koyote » 20 Sep 2018, 15:01

In my (albeit limited) experience, when men give gifts (birthday, Christmas, hosting a party) to other men, it is frequently in liquid form. That is, a nice bottle of scotch or a wine or something. As Biggles and his friends are not big drinkers, they probably had some bottles lying around. Kept for guests, perhaps, or a special occasion. I think Biggles had some sort of drinks cupboard, he wouldn’t have left them sitting out.
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Re: What Possessions would they have?

Postby Fairblue » 20 Sep 2018, 15:21

Frecks wrote:I have often wondered about having a tray with drinks on it for my model flat but when Biggles needs brandy for medicinal purposes he sends Ginger out of the room to fetch it. Did they drink alcohol at home? Would they have it on a tray in the living room for visitors?

I would be very surprised indeed if they did not have some alcohol lying around. Whisky, brandy, sherry. Perhaps even with a soda syphon.

My mother kept a bottle of medicinal brandy in the kitchen cupboard. It was sold as medicinal brandy. What the difference between that and normal brandy was, I don’t know, but it came in a small bottle.
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Re: What Possessions would they have?

Postby StoneRoad » 20 Sep 2018, 20:13

Apart from civilian evening dress, the chances are that they would have had "Mess Kit" and probably No1 uniforms.
Ginger probably had several boilersuits from his ground engineer background.
Bertie definitely would have had a set of "hunting pinks" - but that probably lived in the country house ...

I wonder if they kept their "demob" suits ? [Given how bad a fit some suits were, maybe not !]

I agree that the furniture and so on would have been of good, if not top, quality but probably not "fashionable" as such.
Plenty of souvenirs, rather than ornaments, and photographs on the walls.

Personal kit - decent quality (again) for home use, but a more disposable version to go in the "small kits" that are often mentioned as being kept ready for various eventualities.

Medals ? they certainly had a few of those between them, but I expect those would have been kept in their cases.
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Re: What Possessions would they have?

Postby kylie_koyote » 20 Sep 2018, 20:26

Suitcases. (Probably stored on top of wardrobes or under beds.)

Here's the result of my (brief) research:

- They have "a couple of old suitcases" in Home Front. They are also wearing old clothes and described as "shabby".

- Biggles says in Hunts Big Game "We shall travel light, the lighter the better, so a bag apiece will have to do.” And later on "In ten minutes four valises were lying in the hall."

- In Black Mask, Ginger sets off to France alone. "His only baggage was contained in a featherweight air-travel handbag and consisted of pyjamas, a clean shirt and his toilet things."
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Re: What Possessions would they have?

Postby Fairblue » 20 Sep 2018, 21:15

StoneRoad wrote:.....
I wonder if they kept their "demob" suits ? [Given how bad a fit some suits were, maybe not !]


Officers were not issued with demob suits. They had to buy their own uniforms to begin with, using a small uniform allowance on commissioning which allowed them to purchased from a military tailor. You couldn’t have an officer wearing an ‘off the peg’ uniform and the materials were of a better quality.
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Re: What Possessions would they have?

Postby StoneRoad » 20 Sep 2018, 21:28

Fairblue wrote:
StoneRoad wrote:.....
I wonder if they kept their "demob" suits ? [Given how bad a fit some suits were, maybe not !]


Officers were not issued with demob suits. They had to buy their own uniforms to begin with, using a small uniform allowance on commissioning which allowed them to purchased from a military tailor. You couldn’t have an officer wearing an ‘off the peg’ uniform and the materials were of a better quality.


I stand corrected about the demob suits, I must have mis-remembered something I was told a good few years ago.

I know the recent ROC uniforms quite well, and the Officer's uniform material was definitely better quality than our kit ...
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Re: What Possessions would they have?

Postby Fairblue » 20 Sep 2018, 22:01

StoneRoad wrote:
Fairblue wrote:....
I wonder if they kept their "demob" suits ? [Given how bad a fit some suits were, maybe not !]


Officers were not issued with demob suits. They had to buy their own uniforms to begin with, using a small uniform allowance on commissioning which allowed them to purchased from a military tailor. You couldn’t have an officer wearing an ‘off the peg’ uniform and the materials were of a better quality.


StoneRoad wrote:I stand corrected about the demob suits, I must have mis-remembered something I was told a good few years ago.

I know the recent ROC uniforms quite well, and the Officer's uniform material was definitely better quality than our kit ...


I’m trying to find out more, but I am wondering if they had a small allowance to buy their own. If I find something definitive I’ll post it up. But to be honest, I can just imagine what Bertie would have had to say if he was given one!
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Re: What Possessions would they have?

Postby Tracer » 21 Sep 2018, 09:39

He'd take it straight to his tailor and ask him to make a copy in decent material, and properly fitted!
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Re: What Possessions would they have?

Postby Fairblue » 21 Sep 2018, 10:00

I can imagine Bertie having several suits to fall back on.
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Re: What Possessions would they have?

Postby alderaanian » 22 Sep 2018, 16:54

Fairblue wrote:I would be very surprised indeed if they did not have some alcohol lying around. Whisky, brandy, sherry. Perhaps even with a soda syphon.

My mother kept a bottle of medicinal brandy in the kitchen cupboard. It was sold as medicinal brandy. What the difference between that and normal brandy was, I don’t know, but it came in a small bottle.


This is proof that they had alcohol around - One of the Special Air Police books but I can't even remember which story it's from though, nor how I come to possess this image (I scanned it in many years ago, but whether my copy or borrowed from a friend, I have no recollection, nor what the title is, though no doubt the collective wisdom of this Forum will be able to identify it in no time!) The setting is their flat.

2964

Now that I think about it, I can sense a whiff of disapproval coming from the direction of Mrs Symes as he sinks down into the armchair in this state.

(Edited to add: It's Takes A Hand)
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Re: What Possessions would they have?

Postby Frecks » 22 Sep 2018, 18:37

Yes I remember the book. Algy had been beaten up and treated at the hospital and then came home. This is the book where Biggles sent Ginger to get a glass of brandy for Algy. I got the impression that the brandy was kept for medicinal purposes only and not just out on a drinks tray.
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Re: What Possessions would they have?

Postby Indian Civil Service » 23 Sep 2018, 03:37

StoneRoad wrote:Apart from civilian evening dress, the chances are that they would have had "Mess Kit" and probably No1 uniforms.
Ginger probably had several boilersuits from his ground engineer background.
Bertie definitely would have had a set of "hunting pinks" - but that probably lived in the country house ...

I wonder if they kept their "demob" suits ? [Given how bad a fit some suits were, maybe not !]

I agree that the furniture and so on would have been of good, if not top, quality but probably not "fashionable" as such.
Plenty of souvenirs, rather than ornaments, and photographs on the walls.

Personal kit - decent quality (again) for home use, but a more disposable version to go in the "small kits" that are often mentioned as being kept ready for various eventualities.

Medals ? they certainly had a few of those between them, but I expect those would have been kept in their cases.


In Takes It Rough Biggles says he's going to have to put in a claim for a new suit as his clothes are ruined. Would they be getting a uniform allowance or damages given the nature of their missions and that they are "plain clothes men?"
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Re: What Possessions would they have?

Postby Frecks » 23 Sep 2018, 08:16

That is an interesting question. I do not know if ordinary Police Detectives get a clothing allowance as they do not have a uniform. Do Police Officers have to pay for their own uniforms?
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Re: What Possessions would they have?

Postby Fairblue » 23 Sep 2018, 08:59

Frecks wrote:That is an interesting question. I do not know if ordinary Police Detectives get a clothing allowance as they do not have a uniform. Do Police Officers have to pay for their own uniforms?


This is an extract from a Police Forum, Someone was querying more or less the same thing.

I don't know about a "detective allowance" as such, having not joined until 1979, but on top of our plain clothess allowance of £20 per month, our office got a £2 per month allowance for something else. (The Det Insp got £20)

I was never really sure what it was for, something to do with informant expenses, but it was paid in cash and one officer claimed it for the whole office and it was used to pay for the likes of leaving and retirement gifts and a bottle at Christmas.

It was stopped at the time that plain clothes allowance was stopped.


So, in Biggles' day it was likely they got a Plain clothes allowance, to offset 'wear and tear' of their civilian clothes. Total destruction of it in the line of duty was probably allowable on expenses. I might Google it at some time to try and get the details for Biggles' day.

Police Officers do not pay for their own clothing and detectives do have a uniform for ceremonial occasions such as medal presentations, funerals, guard of honour at weddings, royal presentations etc.
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Re: What Possessions would they have?

Postby Frecks » 23 Sep 2018, 10:45

That is very interesting. I did not realise Detectives had a uniform at all.
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Re: What Possessions would they have?

Postby Wanderer » 23 Sep 2018, 13:31

Frecks wrote:That is very interesting. I did not realise Detectives had a uniform at all.


Of course it could just be sarcasm of the type Biggles & Co are well-known for, ie lodging a claim for something he knows he won't get paid for, or even just a joke they all get the meaning of.
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Re: What Possessions would they have?

Postby Kismet » 23 Sep 2018, 14:20

Biggles has a few awkward corners. I could imagine him claiming all sorts on expenses, not because he expects the items to be allowed, but to make the point that carrying out his job has cost him x number of pounds.

I think wanting to claim a new suit indicates that Biggles sets a high standard for his personal appearance when not taking it rough. He could probably brush off most of the dirt, have the suit dry cleaned and invisibly mended and it would be acceptable to wear, but no, it doesn't meet his standards and he wants a new one. There's another example where he doesn't carry his passport with him in Tangiers because it would clutter his pockets up, and they never, on missions, produce a bit of string or odds and bobs from their pockets. Perhaps, in London, Biggles is vain about his appearance?
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Re: What Possessions would they have?

Postby Frecks » 23 Sep 2018, 15:37

Yes it is quite possible he liked to look smart when he was at home in London. In one book he says if they have any standards they leave them at home when they go on a mission. Of course they do not like to look dirty and unshaven wherever they are. Their "small kit" is mentioned a few times when they have to leave it behind.
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Re: What Possessions would they have?

Postby Fairblue » 23 Sep 2018, 15:52

Kismet wrote:Biggles has a few awkward corners. I could imagine him claiming all sorts on expenses, not because he expects the items to be allowed, but to make the point that carrying out his job has cost him x number of pounds.

I think wanting to claim a new suit indicates that Biggles sets a high standard for his personal appearance when not taking it rough. He could probably brush off most of the dirt, have the suit dry cleaned and invisibly mended and it would be acceptable to wear, but no, it doesn't meet his standards and he wants a new one. There's another example where he doesn't carry his passport with him in Tangiers because it would clutter his pockets up, and they never, on missions, produce a bit of string or odds and bobs from their pockets. Perhaps, in London, Biggles is vain about his appearance?

Mr FB is a bit like Biggles in this respect. When he wears a suit he usually asks me to carry anything bulky or awkward in my handbag. He hates the idea of the line of his suit being spoiled. Mind you, his suit isn't likely to suffer the sort of wear and tear which Biggles' suits went through.
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Re: What Possessions would they have?

Postby Tracer » 24 Sep 2018, 10:01

I find people who have been in the Forces take their smart standards with them after they leave. It can't be universal of course, but every ex-serviceman I know continues to be smart no matter what the subsequent income level. Their clothes may be old, may be mended, but they are clean and pressed.
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Re: What Possessions would they have?

Postby Fairblue » 24 Sep 2018, 11:21

Tracer wrote:I find people who have been in the Forces take their smart standards with them after they leave. It can't be universal of course, but every ex-serviceman I know continues to be smart no matter what the subsequent income level. Their clothes may be old, may be mended, but they are clean and pressed.

And shoes. Clean shoes. An art that seems to have passed the present generation by.
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Re: What Possessions would they have?

Postby Tracer » 24 Sep 2018, 14:12

My Father always said that one should have clean shoes and neat clean fingernails, whatever else couldn't be managed at the time.

Presumably when working under cover, those standards had to be ignored, or they'd give you away.
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