Monday, September 01, 2014

Bletchley Park Rerun

I gave Roger a few options for our Sunday adventure (West Norwood Cemetery, Nunhead Cemetery, or Bletchley Park) and let him decide what we would do. Despite the well-known Curse of Milton Keynes, he chose Bletchley Park. My ticket from last year was still good, many new exhibitions had opened since I was there last October, the weather was gorgeous, and there were no transport mishaps this year -- so all-in-all a grand day out. 

Sundays with Roger always start at the farmers' market in the schoolyard at Salusbury Primary School in Queen's Park. I've probably said this before, but I'll say it again: this is the nicest farmers' market I've ever been to. Roger got all sorts of veg for our meals this week, and I bought a loaf of raisin and walnut bread for my breakfasts during the week and a small quiche and over-priced apple for my lunch on the train to Bletchley. 

The take-away from this return visit to Bletchley Park was a much better sense of what it was like to work there during the war. I learned that 9000 people per day worked there, in shifts of 3000.  The place was in operation 24/7. 75% of the workers were women, and the average age -- this really floored me -- was 20. Imagine what it would have been like to be 18 or 19 years old, studying at university or working, and to receive a letter telling you to report to Bletchley and containing your train ticket. No one knew what work they would be doing until they got there. The first thing they did on arrival was to sign the Official Secrets Act. They weren't even allowed to talk to other people working there about what exactly they were doing, let alone tell their friends and relatives at home. I remember reading somewhere that the Queen (or maybe it was Camilla) came to Bletchley Park recently for the opening of a building and a reunion of people who worked there during the war. The Queen (or Camilla) sat down to chat with an old dear and asked her what part she played in the code-breaking. The old dear replied, "I signed the Official Secrets Act. I've never told anyone what I did here and I certainly am not going to tell YOU." 

I think I now understand how the Enigma machine worked, but I still can't comprehend the turning dials of the Bombe. I couldn't get any of the interactive displays to work (but kids seemed to be having no problem), so I don't think I would have been much help to the war effort at BP. 

£3.20 walnut & raisin bread
£2.90 apple and mini quiche for lunch
£14.50 return train ticket to Bletchley
Free admission to Bletchley Park
£3.30 tea and flapjack snack at Bletchley Park

15,070 steps, 5.94 miles

1 comment:

  1. Did Roger get a kilo of spinach?

    For our book group, I just finished a hokey book about WWII in London, which you might like as a Pool Read: The Secret Keeper. But the secrets have nothing to do with the Official Secrets. Funny story, that.