Friday, August 17, 2007

Code Breaker *

Continuing the historical theme, we went to Bletchley Park yesterday.

The place is currently run by volunteers who are doing things like rebuilding Colossus based on information consisting only of 8 B&W photographs and a couple of pieces of printed circuit board that survived the destruction after the war. The amateurs are very keen to have Bletchley, a significant piece of cryptographic and computing history, recognized as a site of special interest and they have had the mansion, at least, listed as a grade 2 building.

Bletchley Park Mansion

Since the British government's approach after the war was to wipe out any trace of what went on here, and since the buildings were subsequently put on the for sale list, the fact that there is anything to see here is all down to the volunteers. The damage has already been done to those who could not be recognized for their contribution to the effort (due to post war secrecy) and, of course, the post-war fate of Alan Turing is well-known. One of the most moving parts of the tour was hearing the guide – who was an older man, and was certainly brought up during the time when homosexuality was illegal in Britain – tell the story of Turing's outing, his conviction, chemical castration and subsequent suicide – with evident regret and sincere sympathy.

Colossus is currently being rebuilt by a team of dedicated anoraks with no help from the British government, so if you would like to visit their website and contribute, that would be appreciated. I gave at the office, so to speak.

* Code breaker
I've searched around
Here for the key
But I'm blind to it

Tunng - playing at the Green Man this weekend

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