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Painting Bletchley Park
Church Hill, Whaddon

For those blessed with a modicum of intelligence, it’s perhaps pretty obvious that the fast track to the riches of life is to plan a career early in their existence, preferably to those positions which provide the maximum remuneration for the minimum ability - possibly local government, or politics. As for the rest of us, either through idleness, indifference, or just being thick, our lot is to journey along the bumpy cart lane of life, which is why having in the late 1960s drifted into the local Labour Exchange (as Job Centres were then known) I shortly afterwards drifted out again, having been directed to employment with the firm which had just been favoured to paint the buildings at Bletchley Park. Apparently little skill was needed (and indeed none was offered) and on arrival I was teamed up with Harry, whose frequent expansions on the evils of Capitalism would seem to predict the strike ridden days of the decade to come. Despite the loss of a middle finger - allegedly the result of a dive bomber attack, during his wartime service aboard a motor torpedo boat in the Mediterranean - Harry wielded a nifty paint brush, and was therefore hardly best pleased when the officious site clerk passed a derogatory comment regarding some minor blemish or other. Yet no doubt because he assigned an equal contempt to all figures of authority, Harry was commendably restrained in his response, although the eloquence of his wording in dismissing the incident remains with me to this day, and in fact “What’s he think this place is - Lady Docker’s ******* boudoir,” more or less sealed my own opinion of Bletchley Park. That is until 1974, when the incredible achievements of the wartime codebreakers became finally known. And so, if only in a small way, it would be pleasing to think that the application of all those tins of gloss and emulsion helped, if only a little, to preserve the place for posterity. Nowadays the story of Bletchley Park is well known, although less so is that of Whaddon Hall, upon which was centred the secret communications operation which handled the radio traffic for the codebreakers. In fact on Church Hill, Whaddon, may still be seen the concrete foundations of two huts, wherein operators received the information from Bletchley Park for transmission to military commanders overseas. However, to minimise any signals interference between the transmitting and receiving aerials the intelligence, although ‘keyed in’ at Church Hill, was transmitted from Tattenhoe Bare, where the buildings still remain. As for the village hall of Whaddon, this became the cookhouse for some of the secret operations personnel, and in the field at the rear still lie the bases of the huts in which they were billeted.