Imagine you have just run into Mr. Fortnum and Mr. Mason while strolling along Piccadilly, and in the course of conversation, they invite you to “their place”. Would you a) assume that they had ditched their wives and set up home together, or b) think, “Oh, we’re going to the shop at number 181?”
OK, fair point. I concede that if you own a business, especially one with your names above the door, you might well refer to the business premises affectionately or proudly as "our place/chez nous". Similarly, restaurants sometimes call themselves things like Chez Jules or Joe's Place, to denote a homely, personal feel and to suggest it's run with pride and warmth by a chef-proprietor who regards customers as personal guests.
If the Thom[p]sons were working in the capacity of private detectives running their own business, I can certainly see that they might well refer to their office as "our place/chez nous". However, given that they seem to be employees of some branch of the police force, would they refer to their work office that way unless it was also located in some sort of shared home? But I accept that the nature of their office is rather vague, and that as with everything else about the Thom[p]sons, multiple interpretations are valid!
Having a flatmate in a platonic relationship is not unusual. Look at Holmes and Watson who live together until Watson gets married.
Oh, absolutely. I think we've established that whether or not the Thom[p]sons share a flat isn't in itself indicative of whether or not they're a gay couple. I think in the last few posts we've just been arguing (enjoyably I hope!) whether the dialogue in the Crab with the Golden Claws rules out he possibility that they're living apart.
Actually, I think thinking of them as a couple of any sort, other than in terms of their vocation, loses too much of the original intent: Hergé made them virtual clones to play off the stereotype of the bourgeoise fonctionnaire, much as Magritte did. They don’t look alike because they are brothers, related or anything like that: they look alike because they are “the man”, the Governement, the faceless cogs in the (inefficient) machine of state.
It would be revealing enough if Hergé had used the real-life often reproduced illustration of the two similar (but unrelated) detectives from the police magazine as his source; if, as Hergé claimed, he hadn’t seen that picture, then the stereotrype gains an even greater sense of truth, by showing that Belgian detectives (like J. Edgar Hoover’s crew-cut, straw-boater wearing FBI men) did in fact look alike…
I agree. That's kind of what I meant a few posts above by them being archetypes without a life outside the frames of the strip. That was certainly Hergé's intent when he created them and in their earliest appearances. But as the Thom[p]sons become less two-dimensional and more likeable, and as the books become more sophisticated, with Hergé often implying all sorts of social and personal undercurrents between various characters (look at the implied stuff going on between Sponz and Castafiore between the Calculus Affair and Picaros, for instance), it doesn't seem to be going completely against Hergé's intent as a mature author/cartoonist to wonder about the Thom[p]sons' unseen homelife.
I think Hergé was right to never reveal much about the Thom[p]son's backgrounds or domestic arrangements; it would have rather spoiled the surrealness of the characters. But I don't think he'd have minded us enjoying speculating.