Biggles Defies the Beancounters


Lantern Swinger
As found on PPrune, thought some of the people here would appreciate this as well.

Biggles Defies the Beancounters

(with apologies to Captain WE Johns)

A Squadron Leader Bigglesworth Story

An aerodrome somewhere in England - Summer 1941

Biggles strode over to his personal Spitfire, sitting on the grass in front of the dispersal. His eyes narrowed. "What the blazes are you doing Smyth?" he admonished after he spotted the young rigger carefully painting out the red, white and blue roundels that signified the Royal Air Force. "S-s-sorry sir the CO told me to do this," he stammered. "He did, did he?" snarled Biggles.

Wing Commander Wilkinson hove into view from around the wing. "Sorry old chap, roundels are out. We trademarked them and then tried to sue other airforces for breach of copyright, but unfortunately the French counter-sued and we lost - apparently they had the bally roundel idea first."

"So where does that leave us?" asked Biggles incredulously.

"Well our marketing chaps have pulled the stops out and, as of today, 266 Sqn are now being sponsored by a German supermarket chain - Aldi - isn't that great? - Smyth is just putting their logo on and the latest sale prices now. Your kite is down for a two-for-one mobile phone ringtone promotion."

Biggles stared coldly at the designs in Smyth’s hand.

"By the way," said Wilks "can you add RAF (TM) after all your correspondence and reports? Saves us trouble with the legal johnnies - we don't want to lose the name as well."

The Wing Commander continued: "On the plus side the marketing chaps have got us these new trainers to wear - look at these fellas!†pointing at a pair of banana shaped oddities on his feet with a roundel on them. “I believe these are ‘respec and well crucial in one’s hood’ as the young people of today say. It should attract the RAF(TM) some high quality candidates in the future." Biggles winced at that thought.

"Rightâ€, said Biggles, looking at the sky, “I can't stand here chatting about your garish new pumps, I've got to get weaving and shoot down some Boche!"

His CO looked white: "Old boy, you can't say that! - we've got an embedded journalist with us in A-flight now - think what the papers and newsreels would say. From now on its ‘let us get airborne and prosecute the mission and see if we encounter the client’. We certainly don’t want any of this racism when Lord Haw-Haw from Berlin FM comes round next month on his media visit!"

Biggles pretended not to hear and examined the cockpit closely “Have you fitted that extra headrest armour like I asked?†he asked Smyth. “Err no sir. There's no money in the budget for that, you'll have to make do with this defensive suiteâ€. He passed Biggles a thick telephone directory. “It goes behind your head sir,†added Smyth, helpfully.

Wilks toyed with his joint paperclip requisition form. “I meant to have a word with you anyway - we've been having complaints about your low flying from the local village,†he said uneasily. “But I was pursuing a Dornier on a tip and run raid!†exclaimed Biggles. “Well yes, but the lawyers are all over us on this one - if you could just try to limit your dogfighting to unpopulated areas…â€

“I don't believe this...†said Biggles, reaching inside his flying jacket for a cigarette. “Oh my God, man! Put that down. Don't you know those things are lethal?†“And 100+ Me109s at Angels 20 aren't?" questioned Biggles. “Haven't you been to see the Smoking Cessation Officer?†“Noâ€, said Biggles, “I've been solid on ‘Ops’ for the past six months.â€

“So you've missed the ‘Sex-Change Awareness – Your Options Explained’ training too?†said Wilks looking worried, anger rising, “And I notice you didn’t attend your Assertiveness Training course last Wednesday - why was that?†“I was fighting†replied Biggles evenly.

“Well, you will have missed the great news then,†said Wilks, cheerfully. “What?†said Biggles, “we’ve passed 242 Sqn’s kill record? - about time too - I knew those 2 Heinkels that Algy squirted went down eventually.â€

“Not exactly,†said the CO. "We've just been awarded an Investors in People award – we’re having it sewn in the squadron battle honours. Possibly we might put our ISO 6000 and our environmental certificates on it as well - I think we might remove the Arras, Somme and Ypres titles - bit of a horrid business and no point in frightening any corporate sponsors off.â€

Biggles started to don his helmet, muttering under his breath and looking towards the dispersal hut.

“Don’t bother waitingâ€, Wilks said, “You haven't got a wingman today – he’s away on paternity leave for a year under new EU regulations.†“But Brussels is in enemy hands!†exclaimed Biggles. “Yes, but rules are still rulesâ€, said Wilks.

“There’s other news too,†said the CO sheepishly. “This aerodrome is being sold off for housing redevelopment - the entire RAF is now relocating to a gigantic superbase in the middle of Scotland. It’s a bit of a squeeze what with Fighter, Bomber, Transport, and Coastal Command all there, but we think it achieves significant operational savings - although it does mean anything south of Dumfries is on its own.â€

“Well, I must get cracking,†said Biggles, patting the propeller blade on his faithful Spitfire VB. Wilks looked at the veteran pilot. “Don't get too attached – we’re getting rid of your Spitfires - probably no need for them now we've won the Battle of Britain - so we’re taking a capability holiday - you'll re-equip with the new Typhoons in 1944. However, for the first year, you’ll be capability-restricted – the contractors are behind and having problems integrating the rockets and we left out the 20mm cannon as a cost-saving measure. I'm sure you will cope.â€

“Anyway we don't plan on fighting any wars without the Americans - that would just be plain stupid.â€

"Err, Sir I don't know if you've noticed..." interrupted Biggles.

"Oh finally," breezed Wilks. “Word from up high at the Ministry - apparently we've done a deal with Herr Hitler at the highest levels. We've negotiated with industry and outsourced the war entirely. It's a five-year rolling PFI contract which could run for 25 years, with options to renew and means high efficiency, lower costs, just in time delivery, leaned synergies and faster, more robust operations for each side - a perfect example of where the private sector can really support the front line - excellent what! We've got Von Stalhein coming over next week to discuss the merger between 266 and JG51. Do you fancy coming in as a consultant?â€

Biggles grimly picked up his service revolver and chin jutting, headed towards the legal admin branch building.

To be continued…?

Look for other titles in the War Empire Library range:

Hornblower is Overstretched
Sharpe's Public Inquiry
Warlord Sexes Up the Intelligence


War Hero
Nice one! My favourite bit was:

“And I notice you didn’t attend your Assertiveness Training course last Wednesday - why was that?†“I was fighting†replied Biggles evenly.