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An interesting article from the Beeb on the most famous of WWII amateur auxiliary RAF squadrons, 601:

The first auxiliary squadron, 601, later to be known as the Millionaires’ Squadron was, according to legend, created by Lord Grosvenor at the gentlemen’s club White’s, and restricted to club membership.

Recruitment under Grosvenor involved a trial by alcohol to see if candidates could still behave like gentlemen when drunk. They were apparently required to consume a large port. Gin and tonics would follow back at the club.

Grosvenor wanted officers “of sufficient presence not to be overawed by him and of sufficient means not to be excluded from his favourite pastimes, eating, drinking and Whites,” according to the squadron’s historian, Tom Moulson.

The squadron attracted the very well-heeled, not just aristocrats but also sportsmen, adventurers and self-made men. There would be no time for petty rules or regulations. But Grosvenor was nonetheless intent on creating an elite fighting unit, as good as any in the RAF.

Under their next commander, Sir Philip Sassoon, the squadron acquired a growing reputation for flamboyance, wearing red socks or red-silk-lined jackets as well as driving fast cars. Wealthy enough to buy cameras, they even took to filming their escapades.

There were other auxiliary squadrons, but none was as exclusive or elitist as 601.

Curiously enough, I have exactly the same entrance exam here.

Not that 601 Squadron didn’t step up and biff Fritz pretty heartily for all their snobbishness.  I’ve seen references to them here or there, but cannot recall having read anything specifically about them before.  Among the members of 601 was Roger Bushell, who you may remember as mastermind “Big X” of Great Escape fame (yes, the one played by Dicky Attenborough).

When one listens to the classickal musick station 18 hours or so per day during the holiday season, one begins to realize that there really isn’t all that much Christmas musick out there.

It still wants 11 days until Christmas and already the same selections are getting recycled three or four times per day.  That’s the kind of saturation that, over time, can induce the same twitch I picked up once from listening to the Talking Heads’ More Songs About Buildings And Food album over and over on a drive from Hilton Head to Lexington, Virginny because it was the only working cassette I had in the car.

(*Why shouldn’t “finity” be the noun form of “finite” if “infinity” serves in the same relationship to “infinite”?)

Getting caught in the web of circumstances that requires me to stay home over Christmas while the family goes away has left me sulky and resentful.  This is highly uncharacteristic of me, as I almost never let the sun go down on my wrath but instead have the idiot’s talent for shrugging things right off.  And yet, I woke up this morning with what the character-in-the-book-that-has-completely-slipped-my-mind called a “gerrrrr-UDDDGE…”

Not really against anyone in particular, mind you, although I find myself glaring at my colleagues, just against things in general.   See if I go to their stupid office holiday party, tho’.

I know that this is wrong of me, especially in the season of Advent with its emphasis on patience and preparation, but I’m still pretty durn grumpy.


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December 2010