Tuesday, May 3, 2016
Bletchley Park: Would you have made the grade?
I recently finished reading The Debs of Bletchley Park by Michael Smith. I was familiar with the Park and its inhabitants because of other research I’ve done into the “undercover” part of the war. Somewhat repetitive because he interviewed many women who held the same job, the book gives a personal account of life there. For those who don’t know, Bletchley Park was the central codebreaking location for the British.
As a former Human Resources professional, I was particularly interested in the selection process for the jobs. Advertisements were placed in the Daily Telegraph announcing a contest for crossword puzzle lovers. Contestants were instructed to complete the puzzle in under twelve minutes! Why would that be a successful test of skill? Telegraph columnist Tom Chivers said it best in his October 10, 2014 blog:
“What people who don’t do them don’t realise about cryptic crosswords is that they’re a battle. They are mental combat between the setter and the solver: there are strict rules of warfare, but within those rules the setter will do anything to mislead and confuse the solver. That’s why a crossword is superior to Sudoku; a computer can set a Sudoku, and a computer can solve it, but a crossword is human ingenuity versus human ingenuity, wit verus wit."
On our flight to Florida this week, my husband and I amused ourselves by doing the crossword puzzles (one labeled easy, the other labeled hard) in the onboard magazine. It took us approximately twenty minutes to do the “easy” one, and an embarrassing forty five minutes to do the “hard” one. Apparently, neither one of us would have been a Bletchley candidate.
How about you? Would you have made the cut?
A freelance writer for over ten years, Linda Shenton Matchett novella Love's Harvest is available on Amazon. She is currently seeking a publisher for her series about WWII war correspondent Ruth Brown. Visit her at www.LindaShentonMatchett.com