A few years ago, I wrote here about a rather wonderful visit to Bletchley Park – home of WWII codebreakers. I went back a couple of weekends ago, and if anything the place impressed me even more. Mind you, in the interim, they’ve spent a fair few quid on securing some of the buildings from near-collapse, and on state-of-the-art displays.
Various fantasies were muttered sotto voce as our little group wandered round the site – given that it included vanilla company. The wooden rulers on each desk were duly noted. A room empty save for two wooden chairs was clearly where canings took place – a new young recruit made to strip in front of the officers, and touch her toes to be beaten.
And then there was the tale of one lass who’d arrived at the gatehouse one morning without her security pass. Friends had vouched for her: she’d been let in. The alternative, we imagined, would have been for them to call her commanding officer; for him to have to walk in the rain to the gatehouse; for him to confirm her identity. “My office,” he would have said, before setting off walking at speed. By the time she’d caught up, he’d have been waiting, cane in hand.
“Shut the door.”
“Please, sir: I’m sorry.”
“I won’t tolerate lax standards. Nor do I like my time being wasted. Bend over my desk, lift your skirt, and lower your knickers.”
A dozen strokes, I think. There was a war on, after all. Important that lessons were learnt…