East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai



Unless WordPress lets me down, this post will go online at 11 am of the 11th of November 2018, exactly 100 years after the signing of the armistice that put an end to the First World War.
It is interesting to note that the peace was ratified only on the 10th of January 1920, but for the men in the trenches and the fields and the mountains of World War One, the 11th of November marked the end of the war.



I am listening to Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem as I write this. I’ve been surprised, in these days, about how seriously I am taking this centenary.
But after all, I belong to a generation that knew personally people that had fought in the trenches. Continue reading

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Where the hell was Biggles?

“So, where the hell was Biggles when you needed him last Saturday?”

Cover of "Biggles of 266"

Cover of “Biggles of 266” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Biggles was mentioned, last Saturday, on a discussion group devoted to pulp adventure, among other things.
While American classic pulp heroes are getting some attention right now, there’s this feeling their British counterparts are somewhat neglected.
Sure, there are fine reprints (and new stories) about Sexton Blake, but what of Biggles and Bulldog Drummond?

As luck would have it, I’ve a Biggles novel right here on my desk – a twenty-odd years old paperback edition of The Camels are Coming I bought second-hand for 1 eurocent.
So, why not write a small post about Biggles*?

Written by a veteran of the First World War, W.E. Johns, the Biggles novels follow the adventures of James “Biggles” Bigglesworth – an ace pilot that, starting as a fighter pilot in WWI, basically goes through most of the conflicts of the first half of the 20th century… flying most of the available planes in the catalog. Continue reading