About two months ago, I wrote this letter to a penpal living halfway across the world, of whom I have never met and none of us have any care whatsoever to know each other’s social media handles of any kind. It feels liberating in a way, a lost art form in today’s digital age — writing to someone who would never be partial to our appearances which had been gracing every platform of social media we are part of now.
It reminded me of this page of Bruce Chatwin’s letter to his wife Elizabeth describing a dining room during his excursion in Hungary. Very anti-new media, leaves loads of room for imagination, something you could find yourself say “I ain’t got time for this” in the age of Instagram/ Snapchat/ Telegram/ Whatsapp etc. because now you just get to send pictures — embodiment of the lost art of writing letters.
And now the letter:
I stumbled onto a very interesting thing over the weekend. It started over my obsession of watching detective movies and TV series (think Sherlock & Broadchurch) and it introduced me to another TV series called Bletchley Circle.
It is a story set in 1952 which tells of a group of women who used to work as ‘codebreakers’ at Bletchley Park — the site where the Germans’ infamous “enigma cypher” was broken by British mathematicians and code breakers during World War II. The war was over and they returned to normal lives, very much aware of how mediocre lives seem when you’re very talented but then confined to only domestic lives. They got bored so they started to solve crimes using the principles of code breaking — seeing the patterns, plotting the maps, connecting with insiders, etc. I think it is very interesting and I wondered if you will love it too.
My curiosity doesn’t stop there. Bletchley Park seemed like a cool community to be in — regardless of its rigorous workload & fast-paced environment — it was THE war, after all. So I picked up a book called Bletchley Park Brainteasers where they have all these puzzles you can solve to see if you are Bletchley Park certified. If they hire based on Morse code writing and breaking alone, I think I’d be more than eligible! I skipped the crossword part because I felt I didn’t have a very large vocabulary. You should try the puzzles in the book one day.
But what struck me the most is how the Bletchley Park community is composed of. It wasn’t only comprised of mathematicians or cryptographers but also a multidisciplinary team of poets, chess champions, linguists, etc. and also musicians. This is what I felt an ideal working team should be like!
(P/s: Alan Turing himself failed the crossword test before he was enrolled in Bletchley Park. Sometimes genius is delayed.)