I think I'm given a lot more credit for my entries than I'm entitled to! Thank you, all!
Lou - What a great slice of backstory , and expertly woven in with our present-day Swany. I'm keen to read more about Swany's life prior to the war - and, of course, the current point of interest - what will he do about Georgette? Fullofit - Just excellent. I was holding my own breath while reading - I was scared that if I made a sound while reading along, Gaston would be found out! And that cliffhanger - torturous!! Just, brilliant stuff. I continue to be on the edge of my seat in anticipation of what comes next.
MFair - Oh, no! Not the Major's car! Let's hope Jericho finds him in an agreeable mood when he explains himself! Really enjoyed the touch about his father's advice - Jericho has a great, and very unique, depth of character. Looking forward to more! Oh, and lovely picture of Cappy! As Carrick says, you can see how well cared for he is.
Carrick - Glad the Fokkers have been keeping their distance from you. Here's hoping they leave your N12 alone to continue the good spotting work. Great pic of the old artillery piece!
2nd. Lieut. Graham A. Campbell, No. 20 Squadron R.F.C (On Leave), London, England.
March 28th, 1916.
I bade my parents farewell yesterday after a lovingly prepared breakfast, set out by my mother. By the time we had rid the table of the mountains of ham, eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms, bread and butter and, of course, tea, I rather decided that I wouldn’t need any supper that night. Outside the doorway, my mother hugged me with tears in her eyes. “Now, you be careful, Graham”. My father was less sentimental - at least, from the outside. Giving my hand a firm, pride-filled pressure, he looked me in the eye and simply said “Good luck”. A more carefully chosen farewell he couldn’t have produced. Making my way back to the station, I was braced to see one or two Sherwood Foresters making their way home in their dirt and blood-streaked uniforms. Outside the station, I enjoyed the spectacle of an infantryman proposing to his sweetheart - the few passers-by, myself included, applauded as she threw her arms around him with a heartfelt “Yes!”. Part of me wondered if he would return for the wedding, but my reasonable side venomously pushed that fatalistic thought away.
Back, then, to the Cavendish and the clutches of London Society. I was amazed when Rosa Lewis put me up for a second time, mentioning with a coy smile that “I’m sure Dame Huxley would be more than happy to cover the expenses of a fighting man!”.
Back at the Cavendish
I settled in, neatly arranging my personal effects within the room, this time on the top floor, and promptly headed back out, my new R.F.C cap upon my head and my ivory-gripped webley on my hip, bound for Hawkes & Co. The same tailor was busying himself taking impossibly fast measurements of a Captain as I entered. Looking over his shoulder, he nodded in acknowledgement, and a blurred flurry of arms he promptly folded his measure, turned to the Captain and requested a moment, and beckoned me to the counter. His brow furrowed as he flicked through several tickets, comparing them to the suits hanging on the rack behind him, and with a soft “ah,” he produced an immaculately-cut uniform. My uniform! “Would you care to change now, sir, and see how it fits?”. Hurriedly I took the suit from him, excitedly jumping into a changing booth, where I tore away my tired old Sergeant’s uniform. Almost tripping myself up as I pulled the trousers on, I went about converting myself into 2nd. Lieutenant Campbell, pausing to marvel at my reflection in the full-length mirror beside me. With an air of importance, I strolled out of the dressing room, my old uniform folded over my arm. “It’s a perfect fit,” I said to the Tailor, who smiled and bowed his head. The Captain, who had regarded me with disinterest as I had entered, nodded slowly. Taking both my old and my new spare uniforms, I made back for the comforts of the Cavendish.
The uniform of an officer of the Sherwood Foresters
Rosa clapped her hands together in joy as I stepped into the sitting room. “Ah! Campbell! Now you fit the picture!”. I reddened slightly, grinning like a fool. A glass of champagne was pressed into my hand, as a record was fitted onto the large gramophone at the edge of the room. The night was one of decadence, the likes of which I was experiencing from a new perspective - I could become the centre of the conversation, the voice of the room, my inhibitions that I had worn with my Sergeant's uniform were expelled.
Towards the end of the evening, I found myself speaking to a pair of young ladies in powder-blue dresses. They gasped in awe at my stories of flying over the front, and tittered at my tales of Jimmy Reynard’s exploits. Each tale of young Switch-Off’s more sentimental moments were met with an obligatory “awh!” from the ladies. As I recounted the most recent tale, of my being shot down, I suddenly noticed the Blonde one’s eyelids flitting, the slight parting curve of her lips and the sideways, suggestive glance rolling into one fluid, deliberate message. I felt the heat under my collar rising, and my pulse quickened slightly as her deep blue eyes found mines.
Just then came a great booming voice like an archie burst beside my ear, loudly crying out “Shot down, eh? Rotten luck, hah! I’ll tell you for what to do against those damned two-seaters!”. Flinching from the invasive din, I spun around on my heel to find a portly Warrant Officer, his plump cheeks as red as the wine in his glass. From underneath an unkempt bushy moustache that resembled the head of a brush, a row of crooked, yellowing teeth flaring out at me in a less-than-picturesque grin.
“Oh, er, thanks,” I distractedly mumbled, turning back to my present company, who were now smirking in amusement. I felt irritation flaring up as the boom of the Warrant Officer’s voice came again. “You have to get below their tails, or come at them from the front, see! That way, their guns won’t get you!”. I turned to face him again, a forced smile on my face, which very quickly faded once I noticed the absence of any wings on his chest. “Say, why don’t we get another drink! Your wine is nearly done!” I suggested, through gritted teeth. Happily laughing, he agreed, and we made for the nearest attendee.
No further than five steps away from our two lovely companions, I leaned in close to the Warrant Officer and whispered in his ear “Look, can’t you see what’s happening over there? Push off, will you?”. After a pause, a thought came to me, and I awkwardly added “Er, that’s an order!”. He spun round rather blatantly to stare at the two ladies, and then back to me. “Ohhh,” he said, pressing a fat finger to the side of his nose. “Happy hunting, sir!”. To keep up the ruse, I stood with him as our drinks were brought over, and then hastily I turned back to the two ladies - but my heart sunk when I found an empty space where they had been waiting. I tapped the shoulder of a Lieutenant nearby. “The two ladies here..?” I started, and he gave me a sympathetic smile. “Sorry, chum, I think your claim’s been rejected”. He patted me on the shoulder as I miserably thanked him, letting him go back to his conversation. Deflated, I shuffled my feet back towards the W.O. “Go on, then,” I said with a hefty sigh, “tell me about these Aviatiks”. He flashed a friendly yellow grin at me. "So, when you're under the Hun's tail - actually, what bus do you fly? Anyway..."