(1939-09-30) The Old Song and Dance
Details for The Old Song and Dance
Summary: Supplies are delivered to the RAF by their new Army liaison, and when the officers stop to bend the elbow in the mess, Guy's friend Rena shows up to entertain the troops.
Date: 30 September 1939
Location: RAF Biggin Hill, Outside London

It's not entirely too far into the morning when the rumbling of trucks can be heard on the grounds of Biggin Hill. Upon further inspection, one might find a convoy of supply trucks moving into the base one after another. The truck at the very front pulls into position and Major Simon Moore makes his departure from it, clad in a long, olive-drab, woolen coat. He offers a salute to the base commander and exchanges a few words before a few able-bodied men begin unloading various crates from the trucks that have come to a stop.

And about the same time as the trucks start to appear, a lone Spitfire makes a circuit of the airfield, then does a touch-and-go landing. By the time the trucks are starting to unload, it's done a second curcuit and landed, and is taxying to the dispersal area.

Simon slides a cigarette from his pocket and lights it up, watching the Spitfire do its thing. A long drag is taken from the smoke and he pats the side of the truck with a smile, nodding to the base commander who slips back off to his quarters for the time being.

The big Merlin engine drops to idle, then does its trademark cough-and-die, as the cockpit canopy is slid back, and Pilot Officer Alan Martin disembarks. "Handling like a dream, Chief," he notes to the head of the ground-crew team. "And that rattle on the undercart's gone. Good job." Alan strolls in the general direction of the unloading trucks, delivers a crisp salute to the new arrival. "Major."

Simon slips his cigarette into his left hand and offers a salute in kind to Alan. "Good morning, pilot. Seems a lovely morning for a flight, ey?" Major Moore remarks to the man, shuffling his cigarette back to his other hand.

Alan nods. "Glorious up there. Saw you coming about ten miles off." He grins. "Might want to be a little careful with that, sir," a nod at the cigarette. "I think my crew were about to fuel her up." Indeed, one of the aerodrome's big fuel bowsers is bumping across the field from storage, heading for Alan's plane.

"Good thinking, lad," Simon remarks to Alan with a grin before grinding his cigarette out on the side of the truck and tossing it to the ground. He extends a hand to the man and says, "Major Simon Moore, RAF liason."

"Pilot Officer Alan Martin, 812 Squadron." Alan takes the offered hand, a firm handshake. "Welcome to Biggin Hill, Sir. What…" He grins. "New toys are you delivering us?"

"Bloody well met, lad," Simon responds to Alan, letting his hand fall back to his sides. He looks back towards the assortment of trucks that have pretty much all made their way inside the base, "Just your standard-issue requisitions cock-up package. Our guns are big, but I don't think we have use for all of this .303 ammunition." Simon grins and continues, "Along with a few hundred gallons of water and more than enough canned food-stuffs to keep you in fine dining for the duration of the war."

Faulkner emerges from the officer's mess, wearing his hairy mary and turtleneck, his cap at the appropriately rakish angle and a cigarette between his fingers. He wanders over in the direction of his new sprog and the Army man, offering a salute with all the dash and formality of the RAF's combat pilots - which is to say, very little. "Major. Alan. Is everything alright here? If these gentlemen are from the Provost Marshal, I assure you, we didn't do it. Probably." A wry smile.

Alan chuckles. "I daresay we won't turn down more .303." He nods to Faulkener. "Sir. Some of the Army's leftovers, Sir."

Simon offers a casual salute in return to Faulkner as he approaches, saying, "Good morning, sir." He glances back to the trucks and explain, "I suppose it will suffice for a settling in present. I apologize if I didn't bring a wine with me."

"Oh, excellent, excellent. Can't have too few leftovers." Faulkner says, then offers his hand to the newly arrived major, "Flight Leftenant Charles Faulkner, sir. A pleasure. I'm sure the ground crew will get this all squared away in a tick."

As previously forewarned, one of the base's big fuel trucks has bounced its way across the field to stop by Alan's recently landed Spitfire. He watches it for a moment, with a satisfied nod, then turns back to the main conversation. "The Squadron leader should be around somewhere, sir."

"Major Simon Moore," Simon offers in return with a smile, shaking the man's hand. Afterwards, his hands will find shelter in his big woolen coat and he'll say, "How are you lot finding it here? Anything you need more of?"

"Yes, the old man is wandering around somewhere. I'm sure he'll be out eventually, but I can act as adjudant for the moment." Faulkner says, taking a long drag of his cigarette after shaking hands. "Are you staying for a while, Major, or just dropping off the supplies and heading back? We don't get many of you green chaps around here. I think there's something about flying machines that terrifies the army."

Alan staps back a pace or two and lets the two senior officers talk, while he finds a spot to rest his logbook (on the bonnet of the truck, in fact) and fill out the detals of the training run he's just completed.

Simon grins at Faulkner and says, "I imagine I could stay around for a bit." He checks his watch to confirm this statement and says, "I can't say I'm opposed to them, as such. I think I just prefer fighting on the ground. Nothing like a rifle in hand."

Exactly when, precisely, the Old Man snuck out from his paperwork, and into his Spitfire is anyones guess, but the plane which roars overhead on its way to the landing field, complete with its 'A' (for Apple) markings and red painted spinner is undoubtedly his.

Alan glances up. "That'll be the C/O."

"You'll have to let us stand you drinks at the mess, then, Major." Faulkner says, and then shields his eyes as he turns and looks, "Ah, yes, there he is. He'll be down in a moment, then." And back to the conversation, "I understand we're having something they call roast beef tonight. I have noticed a shortage of horses around lately. That doubtless explains it."

Simon chuckles softly and says, "I'm sorry I couldn't get here with your rations, sooner." A glance towards the landing Spitfire and he remarks, "I'm sure Grosvenor will no doubt be delighted to see me, again. Especially with all the gifts I've brought him."

And the spitfire bounces its way to a halt on the field, and starts taxiing towards its fighter pen.

Alan watches the landing, but doesn't comment. He blows on his logbook to dry the ink, tucks the pen back in one of the thigh pockets on his flying trousers.

The perspex of the CO's spitfire has been open, all the time. And he pulls himself up, as the planes brakes locks, and starts to manoever his game leg out of the cockpit.

"How are the hours coming along?" Faulkner asks of Alan, as he finishes with his log, "The Spit's a lot more powerful than the trainers. Then again, the trainers are a lot more powerful than what passed as front-line airframes when I started out. It's hard to believe we managed to get off the ground in the old days." A pause, then, as he looks wistful, "Those were the days."

Guy leaves his plane to be refueled, and checked over, and then wheeled back into its pen, and limps over towards the others, pulling off his silk gloves, unfastening Mae West and flying jacket, and shoving them in his pockets, "Morning chaps! What's the news?"

Simon offers a quick salute to Guy before extending a hand to him, "Good morning, Grosvenor. I trust you're in good health?" He slides his hand back into his coat and jerks his head towards the trucks, "Brought you lot a few things to keep busy with."

Faulkner salutes as well, "Skipper." he says, "Good flight, I hope. And we're safe. The Army is here. Don't you feel relieved? Though they say they brought rations." A little shrug, "What we could really use is some more pilots, but I don't think they have those."

Guy touches his fingers to his flying cap, displaying the sort of approach to formality which makes the RAF proud. "Ah, Moore of you chaps!" He gives a gruff little chuckle, and then digs in his pockets for a cigarette case, "What brings you here?"

Faulkner pulls out his battered lighter and flicks it open for the Squadron Leader. "Something about ammunition and, more importantly, food. I think it was Napoleon who said an army marches on its stomach. But with military food, it's no wonder he was always holding his stomach."

Alan returns, after a relatively cheerful exchange with his ground crew - evidently the barrel of beer that was purchased for them seems to have had the desired effect, on top of him being a not unreasonable chap. He nods to his CO, "Sir. Logged forty hours since I arrived, sir."

Guy gives a slight nod, then looks towards Faulkner, questioningly. To Simon he then says, "Jolly good! Dinner's always appreciated. Anything of note!" He gives a grin, "Oh, and have the boys offered you a drink yet in the Mess?"

"We have." Faulkner says, "Offered the major a drink, that is." He offers the light to Guy, then when that's done, lights another cigarette for himself, apparently quite the chain smoker.

After exchanging a few words with one of the army chaps who was unloading, Simon turns his attention back to Guy, "There was a little mix-up with recquisition forms and we apparently got a few of your things. A few…truckloads of your things. I've also been appointed as the RAF liason, so I thought I might pop in and play nice with you boys for a bit." He grins and slips a cigarette out of his pocket, lighting it up quickly.

Alan, meanwhile, fishes his pipe out (amazing what you can fit in the pockets of a flying jacket) and starts filling it.

Guy ahs, "You mean the Army liaison!" He chuckles, "Good. Good. When we need to start saving the PBI all over again, I'm sure that'll be useful! Right. Time for pink gins?"

"Always." is Faulkner's response, because he strives for the maximum level of dissolution permitted in RAF pilots in wartime. He stands there quietly and smokes, otherwise.

"Yes. That," Simon remarks with a grin before having a look around, "Now, where are these drinks you keep talking about." He'll wander away from the trucks, offering Guy's shoulder a pat with his gloved hand. After a quick taking in of the base, he'll gladly follow someone to wherever the liquor is.

Alan successfully get his pipe going. "Sounds good to me."

"Officer's Mess. Right this way." Faulkner says, doing his job as the #2 man and starting to lead everyone in the right direction. A dozen yards away and up the short flight of stairs into the mess, then into the bar, with its scattered tables, battered war mementos, and blessed, blessed alcohol. He tosses his cap on a table and ashes his cigarette. "What are we having, lads, I'll get the first one."

Alan grins, "Scotch, please, sir. As it comes." Alan's usual order. He likewise tosses his cap on a table, finds a chair and plonks himself down."

Guy limps in, "Pink gin." And he nods to the barman, "On my tab, actually. CO's perogative." And he leans against the bar, then looks over to the upright piano. "We need to find someone who plays."

Alan blinks, laughs. "Respectfully, sir, you must have been up in your kite when I last played, then."

Simon slips into the officer's mess, sliding his leather gloves from his hands and tucking them into his overcoat which is then also removed and hung on a hook. "A scotch and plain water, thank you." He smiles warmly and moves to have a look around the room.

"Not my instrument, I'm afraid." Faulkner says, then tilts his head towards Alan, then towards the piano, "Well, grand, that's sorted." He nods when the CO insists on standing the first round, then orders a few of the pink gins, turning to distribute them all around, as well as Simon's iconoclastic Scotch. He finds himself a seat, polishing his fingernails on the body of his rough blouse.

Guy looks to Alan, "Ahah! Excellent! Well, it's important to keep you alive then, isn't it! Got to keep our pianist safe!" There's amusement there as he picks up his glass, "Cheers, chaps! Confusion to our enemies."

Alan takes a sip of his Scotch, eyes the piano. "Need proof, sir?" He grins at Guy.

The bartender picks up the phone after it rings twice, "Officer's Mess. Standby." He covers the reciever and says, "Squadron Leader Grosvenor, the guardhouse says there's a Miss Lee here for you?"

Simon dips his head thankfully as his glass is delivered and looks to the other men, raising it to Guy's toast before taking a sip from it, "So, is this what you lot do all day?"

Guy leans over and takes the reciever, "Can you escort her up to the Mess please? Thanks awfully! Yes." He replaces the reciever, "Ah, a friend dropping by, chaps." He looks to Simon, and then nods, "Yes. Absolutely. We sit in a nice Mess, waiting for action, whilst you sit in a field doing the same. I've _done_ sitting in a trench. It's not that much fun!"

Smartly dressed from stem to stern as always, Rena enters the room with an escort (as protocol demands, now that the war is on.) The pretty little redhead has, in all likelihood, been chattering like a cheerful little bird with every man she's encountered since entering the airfield; and now, she slips in like a little blob of sunshine. Upon seeing her friend, she offers her thanks to the man beside her and then hurries across the room: "Hullo, Guy! Erm… rather, Squadron Leader Grosvenor," she corrects herself, giving a playful little salute.

Alan glances at Faulkner, arches an amused eyebrow, and waits to be introduced.

"Oh, come now, Skip, that's not true. We sometimes shoot down Nazis as well." Faulkner says, as he joins in the toast. He takes a sip of his drink, and gives Guy something of an upraised eyebrow at the mention of a guest, but says nothing. "Marshal Haig, and damnation to the Hun." he agrees. "Oh, wait, Haig's dead, isn't he? Ah, well, old habits." He stands as a lady enters, though, stubbing out his cigarette and straightening his uniform blouse with a tug to the hem.

Simon grins at Guy and takes another sip from his scotch, offering, "I'll have you know that I also fill out a lot of paperwork, good sir." His eyes move towards the redhead as she enters and he offers her a nod along with a kind smile.

Alan mms. "And while we're at it, I'm mentally replaying a lecture I'm sure I had off you, since I gave you /carte blanche/ to do so, on the subject of bridge officers going off into potential danger on their own." She grins up at the taller woman. "My only consolation is I get to hand you over to the doc."

Guy puts a pink gin, "Ahhhh! Miss Lee! Good to see you! Decided yet about whether WAAFdom would suit you? And can I get you a drink?" He gestures, "Major Moore you know, I think. And this is 'Birdie' Faulkner, and 'Aston' Martin." Yep. The army get rank and surname. The RAF get silly nicknames. "Gents, this is Miss Irene Lee."

Alan stands as the lady's introduced. "Pleased to meet you, ma'am." Great, a nickname already: is this a good or a bad thing? He shrugs, grins a touch.

Perhaps Rena hadn't expected such a "crowd" when she arrived, but she's not one to be a shrinking violet, and she isn't easily bothered by such things. In fact, her attitude is: The more the merrier.
"Pleased to meet you, gentlemen!" She replies brightly, looking at each in turn. She can't help but giggle slightly at Alan's nickname, of course. "Cor, I didn't expect to find so many men in their sharp uniforms when I dropped in! I guess it's my lucky day."

Guy receives a somewhat subdued smile when he asks about the WAAF: "A drink would be lovely. I'm afraid I wouldn't be terribly well suited to the WAAF, though. You know the only talents I've got…"

Faulkner nods as well, "Miss Lee. Very nice to meet you, and my sincere condolences, as well, for being introduced to the Skipper." Of course they get nicknames - their ranks are such a mouthful, after all.

Guy nods to the barman, "Another pink gin, please!" And he hands it to Rena, "Of course! You're an entertainer!" He gestures to the upright piano, "Aston was just telling us he plays the thing! And we could do with a morale lift for the squadron!"

Alan grins, wryly. "Is that a hint, sir?" He doesn't wait for an answer, but makes his way over to the piano, tries a couple of scales to check it's still mostly in tune and no-one's poured a pint over it sicne he last played it.

Rena is taken off guard by Guy as he hands her the gin and suggests that she could entertain. For a moment, she gives him a blank stare with her lips parted slightly; but then, blinking, she says: "You mean I could… Really?" Clearly, the idea excites the little redhead a great deal.
Taking a quick sip of her drink, Rena hurries after Alan and sidles up to the piano. "You can play? This really IS my lucky day, after all!" She exclaims before glancing back at the others.

"Morale lift, eh? What are we feeling down'earted for, lads? That little high-stepping German Gander is going to find 'is goose is cooked before long!" Rena says with a bold glint in her eyes. "Now, what would you like sung?"

Guy says, "Well, of course! I mean, obviously, this place is for Officers only, but it's not just my Squadron at this base, so there's a fair number of us. And there's the NAAFI for the Other Ranks as well, of course."

Alan grins. "Know any Gershwin, ma'am?" He starts the intro to 'Summertime', pretty much straight, though with a nice relaxed feel and a light touch. Decent enough pianist.

"I'm reasonably sure that in every war ever, it's been promised that the boys will be home before Christmas." Faulkner says, injecting a bit of realism, probably unnecessarily. He sits back down and waits while Alan spools up the piano.

Rena casts a glance at Faulkner from across the room and calls out playfully: "Ey, I'm supposed to raise some morale, 'ere. Don't be a wet blanket!"
Returning her attention to Alan as he begins to play, she merely smiles knowingly in reply to his question. Humming along to the first few bars in harmony, Rena slips into the actual lyrics:

"Summertime, and the livin' is easy
Fish are jumpin' and the cotton is high
Oh, your daddy's rich, and your ma is good-lookin'
So hush little baby, don't you cry."

Rena turns and leans against the high back of the piano with a wistful and beautiful smile, her gaze turned upward in a day-dreamer sort of way.

One of these mornings you're gonna rise up singing
And you'll spread your wings and you'll take to the sky
But 'til that morning, there ain't nothin' can harm you
With Daddy and Mammy standin' by…"

Guy leans against the bar, sipping his pink gin. He's enjoying the music, clearly, watching and listening carefully to both.

Alan takes the tune for a walk between verses: definitely he's done this before. After the last verse, he throws in a sequence of passing chords and a key change into Bb, paiusing just for a moment with a grin at Rena before launching into a bright, bouncy take on "I Got Rhythm".

The other ranks would no doubt consider this yet another way that the officers have it better. Faulkner certainly seems to be enjoying himself, as he listens to the music and sits back, lighting up another from his pack of Senior Service.

Simon settles quietly into his chair, listening to the song. Seems he's quite content in drinking the day away for the time being. A pretty woman singing always beats paperwork.

The dream-like look slips away from Rena's expression, and a mischievous glint sparkles in her eyes as Alan changes over to something more cheerful and light. She takes a demure little sip of her gin before setting the glass atop the piano and moving away from it:

"I got rhythm, I got music, I got my man
Who could ask for anything more?
I've got daisies in green pastures
I've got my man
Who could ask for anything more?"

While she sings, she steps lightly out into the open space of the floor to the beat of the music with a little dance. While she gets into the rhythm, she deftly undoes the buttons of her suit jacket, slips out of it and flips it over her shoulder to hold it there with one hand lightly.

"Old man trouble I don't mind him
You won't find him 'round my door
I've got starlight
I've got sweet dreams
I've got my man
Who could ask for anything more?"

A mischevious glint in Alan's blue eyes, as he shifts up a key, and allows himself a bit of pure self-indulgence, some Pinetop Smith instrumental boogiewoogie with its insistently repeating left hand. The young man's not /bad/.

Guy takes another sip, watc….. listening… listening, approvingly. He seems to be plotting slightly, too, though.

Faulkner leans over to Guy, and murmurs, "Seems to me that her man would be a lucky chap. You getting that in your crosshairs, skipper? I can see you maneuvering in your head." He sits back up straight, though, and continues to sip his drink and smoke and otherwise enjoy the performance.

Delighted by Alan's playing, Rena claps her hands together once as the man moves into a Boogiewoogie for the enjoyment of one and all. Also, it affords her a bit of a breather - and she could use it. Returning to the piano for another sip of her drink, she revels in listening to Mr. Martin's piano skills. Of course, she is oblivious to the conversation between Guy and Faulkner at the bar across the room.

Alan pauses for a moment at the end of the boogiewoogie piece. "Another, ma'am?" he inquires, shaking out his left hand and then taking a sip of his whisky.

Guy leans over to Birdie, and shakes his head, "Just a friend, old thing! She's rather involved with someone else. And besides, I'm a touch old, don't you think?"

"Oh, come now, the whole Old Man thing is just a nickname, old bean. And you need something to remind you what you're fighting for." Faulkner replies, with a grin, "But right, right. We know you only chase Messerchmits, these days."

"If you're up for another, I am." Rena answers Alan with a warm smile. The young woman really does seem to be in her element right now. She hasn't been this happy in a long time. Of course, only Guy knows that - but it's good to see her in such fine spirits for once. "Though, to be honest, I'm curious…"
Pausing, she turns and narrows her gaze on the squadron leader: "Do I get a nickname like the lads do?" She asks cutely, not even remotely joking. "Only seems fair!"

Alan smiles. "Surely." He wanders through a few fragments of tunes before settling in on something, which she'll eventually pick up as being "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes".

Guy considers this for a moment, "Mmmm, we need something full of spirit, but small, and with beautiful handling,…. and a good punch…." There's a twinkle in his eyes, as he mulls these characteristics.

While Guy considers Rena's 'qualities,' she laughs softly and returns her attention to Alan. He settles on a tune, and she leans against the piano again with her arms lightly folded, her jacket draped over them. Smiling warmly at him, she begins to sing smoothly:

They asked me how I knew
My true love was true
I of course replied
Something here inside
Can not be denied

They, said some day you'll find
All who love are blind
When you heart's on fire
You must realize
Smoke gets in your eyes."

Alan tilts his head, smiles back. Again, takes the tune after the last verse for a light, jazzy walk, starts to tease in a little fragment of tune, waiting till she spots it… "It Don't Mean A Thing."… before he starts it up properly.

"O-ho, you've got a wicked 'and there," Rena playfully chides Alan with a devilish smirk as he moves on into that fun Jazz standard. How can she refuse that one? Away from the piano she moves again, tossing her jacket onto a nearby empty table so that she can more easily get into the beat and dance again. If ONLY she were wearing a shorter, less restrictive skirt. But she didn't expect to be doing this today!

"It don't mean a thing, if it ain't got that swing
(doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah)
It don't mean a thing all you got to do is sing
(doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah)
It makes no difference
If it's sweet or hot
Just give that rhythm
Everything you've got!"

Alan comes up with something that seems to be the bastard offspring of Duke Ellington and Pinetop Smith - at least, the right hand bears a jazzed up resemblance to "It Don't Mean A Thing", but the left hand's gone from walking bass to a boogiewoogie pattern.

Guy glances to the window, and grins, and then murmurs, "Spitfire Lee?"

"Bring us home, Martin!" Rena says delightedly as the man takes the song and does wild and wonderful things to it with his musical skill. He's outlasted her! Finding her drink again, she downs what is left of her gin - she needs it after all that exertion - and moves back toward the bar. Guy's suggestion for a nickname causes the redhead to almost squeak with girlish glee: "Spitfire Lee? Oh, Guy, that'd be smashing, it would!" She exclaims.

Alan does as instructed, a final repeat of the 'doo wah doo wah' section ending on a triumphant major chord. Leans on the piano, laughing. "Sir? That lady friend of yours is hard work. In the nicest possible way."

Guy chuckles, "Well, suits you. In the original sense as well." He drains his glass, "And yes, Aston, she's bally hard work! Worth it though! Now, Rena, if I were to enquire what your professional fees would be… for shows here for the chaps… Officers and NAAFI for the Other ranks?"

Rena giggles at Alan, shaking her head slightly: "You gave me quite a workout, yourself. But oh lor, I can't remember when I had such a good time!" She says happily.

"Professional fees?" Rena says in surprise, turning to Guy. "Oh 'eavens, I don't need to be paid anything. This sort of work is riches to me, it is! Besides, you know I don't want for anything where money is concerned these days." Rich man and all - if anyone asks, there's no need to lie. She has thrown her lot in with a "Doctor" after all.

Guy looks a bit doubtful, "Well… while the petrol ration permits, at least I can run you back to town. Or something!"

At first, Rena's mind flicks in an instant to the fact that she can just hop on a broom and fly out to the airfield whenever she wishes. But, of course… only one man present knows that. Better to roll with Guy's suggestion.
Tilting her head and pretending to consider her options carefully, the young woman finally smiles and relents: "Oh, alright, then. That, I can accept!"

Alan downs his Scotch, ambles over for a refil. "Methinks I need to practise."

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License