December 5th, 2007

Dancing Classes

So I'm writing this novel, wherein my heroine comes back from the post-apocalyptic future to assassinate a guy in 1898 England and my hero, for his own reasons, is teaching her how to fit into society so that she can do so At the moment, we're on dancing lessons/ballroom attire. The people In The Know are the hero, the heroine, and the hero's sister.

1) What dances would be considered absolutely vital for Heroine to know? How many people need to be present for her to learn them?

2) If these are multi-person dances, how common would it be for an adult woman not to know them? Because if the hero has to, he'll involve the servants for the other bits.

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World War II draft and leave

Setting: England, during WWII (sometime in 1940-41, as yet to be determined precisely)

The character is a man is of about 40 years old, and he's been conscripted, probably near the beginning of the war. My understanding is that from the start of the war, men aged 18-41 were eligible for the draft, and that at the very end of 1941, the age was extended to 60, with possible military service for those 51 and under. This is before that act was passed, though, so the max. age is 41, and this guy is not far under that age.

My questions are, first, assuming that the character has no previous military training and has previously been in a somewhat sedentary occupation (he was a gentleman's valet, in fact), but is nevertheless in decent shape, would he likely be put through regular basic training and then into combat, or would they be more likely to place him in a support-type role? He has no immediately obvious skills that would make him useful in other non-combat capacities (he's not an engineer or a codebreaker or a medic, etc.) but he could certainly learn if he had to, he's fairly clever.

Second question is, what happens when he turns 41? Does he remain in the military, or get discharged? If he does get discharged, and then the age of service is extended to 51, would he get called back up?

Ideally, I'd like him to be doing something kind of cool (not just regular infantry, say) and also potentially secretive and dangerous, but I don't know how plausible that is ;) If it makes any difference to any of these questions, his former master is a WWI veteran with connections, and could probably have strings pulled for him.

Also, if/when this fellow gets to go home on leave, how long would it likely last? A few days, maybe a week?

ETA: thought of one more question: were the British armed forces issued with condoms in WWII? I know the US were, but thought I should double check...

I've read a ton of wiki entries about WWII, conscription, leave, googled various combinations of these terms, checked the tags here, and looked around a lot at the BBC's WW2 page - great for flavour and details, but I haven't found answers to these specific questions yet.