Archive for February, 2020|Monthly archive page

Coincidence No. 488 – Bletchley Park

bletchley park the mansion codebreakers

The Mansion, Bletchley Park (Dec 2019)

I go to meet my cousin from Melbourne, Australia at my old home tube in Tufnell Park. We have never met before. She has come to London to work as a mathematician at the Alan Turing Institute in King’s Cross. Mention of Turing’s name prompts me to ask whether she has visited Bletchley Park yet? She has. I explain how it was very little known about until Peter Bate, David Darlow & John Smithson made the TV series Station X for my alma mater Channel 4 in 1998. We talk about how the men and women of Bletchley Park did not talk about it for five decades until the interviewees for the programmes got permission from the MoD. We talk about Sue Black who saved Bletchley and who I got to know originally during my time at C4.

I get on the bus to come home. I open my novel, Old Filthy by Jane Gardam, which we are reading for my book group. (I’ve just looked it up because I suspected as much… Jane Gardam is the mother of Tim Gardam, now Principle of St Anne’s College, Oxford, in 2003 Director of Television at Channel 4 when I joined.) This was on the page I was up to and started reading on the top front tourist seat on the 263:

But they had me later in the War at Bletchley Park and there we met again. [NB Bletchley had not been mentioned in the novel before or had any role in the story] Bletchley Park was full of innocent, nice girls (not me) who had a very particular aptitude (crosswords) for solving cyphers and things, as you will be hearing in a year or two when ALL IS TOLD (the fifty year revelation).

The Mansion, Bletchley Park (Dec 2019)

The Mansion, Bletchley Park (Dec 2019)

Hut 1, Bletchley Park (Dec 2019)

Hut 1, Bletchley Park (Dec 2019)

The Lake, Bletchley Park (Dec 2019)

The Lake, Bletchley Park (Dec 2019)

Greek Myths and their Symbolism

I’ve been doing a course the last few weeks at City Lit round the corner from Red Bull Media House HQ in Covent Garden. It’s about ‘Greek Myths and their Symbolism’ and I’ve been really enjoying the story patterns and archetypes that have been emerging from the lectures themselves plus my spin-off thoughts as I listened. Here’s one for example…

People Locked In Towers

Daedalus and Icarus were locked in a tower by King Minos

Daedalus and Icarus were locked in a tower by King Minos

The first myth we looked at was that of Daedalus, the Minotaur and the Labyrinth. The co-star of my favourite book, Ulysses by James Joyce, was named after Daedalus.

J. W. Waterhouse - I Am Half-Sick of Shadows Said The Lady of Shalott (1915) painting

J. W. Waterhouse – I Am Half-Sick of Shadows Said The Lady of Shalott (1915) who was locked in a tower by Morgana Le Fay

Based on Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s 1832 Arthurian poem The Lady of Shalott. The enchantress Morgana Le Fay was jealous of the Lady’s beauty and locked her in the tower with the curse not to be able to look out of the window or she would die. Compare Pandora who could not look inside the box and Psyche who could not look at her secret lover (Eros), invisible in the dark.

The Attic that inspired Jane Eyre's 'madwoman in the attic' Bertha

Mrs Rochester, Bertha Mason, was locked in the attic by her husband

This is the attic that inspired Jane Eyre’s ‘mad woman in the attic’ scenario. It’s in the stately home of Norton Conyers in North Yorkshire, which Charlotte Brontë visited in 1839. Brontë’s character, the mentally ill Bertha Mason, is locked in the attic for ten years by her husband Edward Rochester.

rapunzel Illustration for Household stories Brothers Grimm Jacob and Wilhelm Illustrated by Walter Crane 1920

Illustration for Household Stories by the Brothers Grimm drawn by Walter Crane (London: Macmillan, 1920)

Rapunzel was locked in a tower to keep away randy princes – in the German fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm, first published in 1812 in Children’s and Household Tales. Their version is an adaptation of a story by Friedrich Schulz.

Here’s another pattern spotted…

People Falling Out of the Sky

Icarus flew too near the sun and melted the wax of his wings :: Jacob Peter Gowy's The Flight of Icarus (1635–37)

Icarus flew too near the sun and melted the wax of his wings :: Jacob Peter Gowy’s The Flight of Icarus (1635–37)

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Phaethon couldn't control the horses of the sun god, his father Helios :: The Fall of Phaethon by Sebastiano Ricci [b. 1659, Belluno - d. 1734, Venice] (1703-04) [Oil on canvas - Museo Civico, Belluno]

Phaethon couldn’t control the horses of the sun god, his father Helios :: The Fall of Phaethon by Sebastiano Ricci [b. 1659, Belluno – d. 1734, Venice] (1703-04) [Oil on canvas – Museo Civico, Belluno]

Like Icarus, Phaethon is an archetypical stroppy teenager. In Jane Austen’s England a Phaeton was a sporty sort of horse-drawn carriage. Trying to drive Helios’ powerful sun-horses before he was ready is a bit like nicking dad’s sports car – see Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

Gustave Dore Paradise_Lost John Milton satan falling

Satan was cast out of the sky by God :: Gustave Doré’s illustration for Milton’s Paradise Lost

 

Free Falling The Amazing Spider-Man #8 Artist: Humberto Ramos (Aug 2019)

Free Falling The Amazing Spider-Man #8 Artist: Humberto Ramos (Aug 2019)

Spider-man regularly falls from the sky mid battle. Falling from the sky is often connected to humans overreaching, striving for the divine or angelic side of our nature.

 

Coincidence No. 776 – Snowdrops

This one I’m writing in the porte-cochère of Beech Hill House, Derry.

I am out for a morning jog and I stop to take this picture of early snowdrops.

As I crouch down I hear in my earbuds this from Kermode & Mayo’s film podcast: “Dear Timely Snowdrop and Early Daffodil” – the coincidence of “snowdrop” and clicking the shutter is exact. They go on to talk about “coincidences (or are they?)”

Note 1: I got married at Beech Hill

Note 2: I was at school with Mark Kermode and Jason Isaacs

Note 3: Hallo, Jason Isaacs

Note 4: Beech Hill was Base One Europe, the first US base on the continent for WW2 – tinkety-tonk and down with the Nazis

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