“Can you tell me your name, please,” the Iranian police captain sighed after Biggles had been arrested and held at the local station.
“Shan’t,” said Biggles folding his arms across his chest defiantly.
The captain rubbed his forehead with both his hands, and sighed again.
“You’re at least supposed to tell us your name, rank and serial number.” He wearily explained for the ninth time. “As put down in the Geneva Convention on …”
“Shan’t,” Biggles poked out his tongue. “You jolly Abdullahs shot me down again.”
The captain asked over his shoulder to another guard, “Is he talking about Afghanistan's foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah?” but the other guard shrugged his shoulders and continued drinking his tea.
“Look my name isn’t Abdullah,” the captain began doodling on the paper, “my name is Captain Arash. I don’t even know anyone called Abdullah. I’m a Persian. Now for the love of God, can you please tell me your name?”
“What about the bally holes in my plane?” Biggles jabbed with his index finger on the table, “you can’t get them fixed down the local bike shop you know!”
“You invade Iranian airspace, attack a field of sheep, and land in the middle of the quarter-final match between Iran and Kazakhstan of the Asia-Cup. Why shouldn’t we shoot at your plane?”
“What about my cup of tea?” Biggles became petulant.
“It’s right there in front of you, with milk even.”
“Smell’s like camel,” Biggles poked his tongue at it.
“Yes,” the captain rested his head on his hands and sighed with infinite patience “well, we couldn’t get any milk from a Jersey cow as you requested, so we did the best we could and milked a donkey. It’s perfectly good, although we do prefer only sugar with our tea.”
The captain opened a box of Ferrero Rocher Chocolates.
“Will these do?”
“Ooh Ferrero-Rocher,” Biggles grinned as he peeled one open.
“Look, someone from Savama,” the captain almost pleaded with Biggles, “which is the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and National Security will soon be here, and they torture people, so you’re much better off telling me who you are or they might just tear it out of you.”
“You cads!” shrieked Biggles, “I’ve been tortured by Russians, Italian waiters, French taxi drivers and even the occasional German High command - and trust me when it comes to being tortured the Huns know or two. Nobody tortures Biggles, …oh bugger.”
“Biggles,” Captain Arash wrote this down, “with one or two ‘g’?”
“Ahem - two.”
“Rhymes with giggles?”
“You know, I’ve never noticed that before.”
The captain looked at Biggles studiously for several minutes, trying to recall something, as Biggles face became more and more covered with chocolate.
“You’re not the same Biggles we shot down a month ago, are you? The one who attacked a donkey and a field of sunflowers? The one who blew up Persepolis - one of our most treasured monuments, considered one of the great archaeological sites. The one who escaped by wearing a Burqa, after we had already handed him back to the British, so we had to hand him back twice? Not, that Biggles?”
Biggles’ face went bright red and he looked awkwardly at the ceiling fan.
“No, that name is just a coincidence,” Biggles lied unconvincingly. “You’re thinking of Rupert Biggles, I on the other hand am James Bigglesworth, different chap altogether.”
“James Bigglesworth,” the Captain wrote down meticulously.
“And can you tell me why you invaded Iranian airspace?”
“Is this Iran?” Biggles looked startled. “I thought it was Egypt.”
“Well, can you tell me why you invaded Egyptian airspace?”
“I thought it was on the way to Syria.”
“And have you any reason for invading Syrian airspace.”
“I was meeting a chap about a dog.”
“So, let me get this straight, you were flying to Syria using a British Royal Airforce Harrier II jumpjet,” the captain looked skeptical, “armed with Air to Surface missles and Paveway IV airburst bombs. Just to meet a man about a dog?”
“How on earth did you know all that?”
“Your logbook says,” the Captain opened up a small notebook, “and I quote, ‘fly Harrier II jump jet to Iran, and attack sheep with Air to Surface missiles and Paveway IV airburst bombs. Mister Abdullah won’t know what hit him. Be back in time for snooker with Algy and Ginger. I’m so spiffing. Biggles.’.”
“If you bally well knew all this,” Biggles looked annoyed, “why in blazes are you asking me?”
“When dealing with madmen, it pays to check your facts.” The Captained smiled. “You’re going to put into a hotel until such time as your government can explain why you are attacking all the sheep in my country.”
“What about those jolly Savamas, the secret police chaps,” Biggles quizzed worriedly, “the ones you said were going to torture me?”
“I just did,” Captain Arash, grinned, “I actually am in the Savama. You see, Captain Biggles we’re not idiots, my culture is over four thousand years old, it is comparable to Egypt, India and the ancient Greece. The Persian Empire was, and perhaps one day will be again, as complicated and vast as you could imagine. We are as sophisticated a people as you are ever likely to meet, and while the American press may seek to demonize us, a lot of us simply are not the monsters that we have been portrayed as, and though this may come as surprising to you – we do hold by the Geneva Convention, and you will in time be handed back to the British. We really couldn’t do that, if you were in many pieces, now then could we?”
“Er, bally well say not.” Biggles blew his cheeks out repeatedly.
“Except for one tiny little thing.”